Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

It would seem I'm on something of a young adult novel kick lately, but it's really just a combination of having the time and finding a couple of books available at the library that have been on my mental to-be-read list for a while.

When I read Becky's review of Impossible a few months ago, I knew it was something I'd like to read. I've always loved the haunting melody of "Scarborough Fair," especially as sung by Haley Westenra on Celtic Treasure and Celtic Woman - A New Journey. Over the past year or so, it had slowly dawned on me that the song contains a puzzle of sorts, since the requests to prove your true love are at least irrational if not impossible. Nancy Werlin explains in the "Author's Note" that she came to that same realization, which gave her the premise for this contemporary teen fantasy novel.

At the outset, I was a little worried that it would merely be a chronicle of teen angst and petty worries between seventeen-year-old Lucy Scarborough and her friends and family, but the plot quickly grew interesting with the introduction of Lucy's insane mother, childhood friend Zach, the mysterious and handsome Padraig Seeley, and a number of catastrophes on Lucy's prom night. Although the ending is fairly predictable (and I wouldn't want it any other way), there are several unexpected turns in the story that give it both suspense and depth, making it more than just another teen pregnancy story.

I was impressed with how the option of abortion was presented several times, but Lucy still deliberately chose to keep her baby in spite of the impossible challenges of the ballad that had to be met before her daughter's birth. While that decision could be construed as part of the mystical power of the curse or simply fate, it was, nevertheless, a choice for life. Most of the quotations I have recorded relate to this theme.

"If her friend...were pregnant and came to Lucy for advice, Lucy would certainly think of abortion. Perhaps she'd even urge it. Miranda [Lucy's biological mother] had spurned the thought - possibly out of craziness. But how could Lucy be anything but glad? She was here, and alive, because of it. It was a strange moment. Thank you, she thought. Thank you, Miranda. Thank you, Mother." (104-105)

"'No, Mom. We can't just "deal" with this. I can't have an abortion. Miranda didn't abort me, did she? I have to have the baby. I just - I can't explain it; it's just how I feel. I have to go ahead.'" (130)

"'There's one more thing,' said Soledad [Lucy's foster mother]. 'And it has to be said.' She drew a deep breath. 'You're only at fourteen weeks, Lucy. It's actually not too late to get an abortion.'" Inside her, Lucy's mind - body - soul - screamed. My daughter...It had nothing to do with the rational. It did have something to do with the letter from Miranda she'd just read. I like you already, Miranda had written... 'No,' she said. She was prepared for a battle, but it didn't happen." (189)

"Recently, Lucy had begun talking to the baby in her mind. She felt aware of her as a distinct presence. For example, right now, she felt as if the baby was awake, alert, and interested...We'll fight together, you and me, how about that? Lucy thought to the baby." (215)

"But just now, he'd gotten on his knees and proposed marriage, like in a television commercial for a diamond ring. Except of course they had the roll of duct tape instead, which, when you came to think about it, was a far more practical item." (225) So true!

Lucy's friend Sarah turns out to be wise beyond her years: "'...you're having trouble being the one who takes, instead of the one who gives...But, Lucy, you have to learn to accept. And you have to learn to accept with - well, with grace, just the same way that you give. You've given plenty to me, in the past, whenever I needed you...So now, you get to receive. From everybody in your life. It's all right. It's more than all right.'" (258)

I don't know that I'll necessarily read more of Werlin's books, simply because I have many more other titles to occupy me than young adult novels, but Impossible was a nice diversion, a quick read, and a fascinating story.

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