Impossibly Haunting and Breathtaking

The day I lent my copy of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater to a friend, and gushed about how amazing it was, she insisted I read Impossible by Nancy Werlin and promised to bring me her copy to borrow. She brought me the paperback with a cover I hadn't seen before, but her recommendation was more than enough (and of course, later when I looked it up and found the cover art of the hardcover, I recognized the title immediately - more on cover art later).

Impossible has an achingly beautiful conception: Nancy Werlin once loved the song "Scarborough Fair" by Simon & Garfunkel and thought it a beautiful love song, only to later realize, as an adult, how sad the lyrics truly were - a man asking his supposed true love to perform three impossible tasks in order to prove herself. And she wondered what was the story between those two people?

What she came up with is a dark and twisted fairy tale. Lucy Scarborough is the latest Scarborough girl in a long line of cursed women, doomed to become pregnant at 17 and then begin a descent into madness. On prom night, her date rapes her, and she becomes pregnant. She decides to keep the child, supported by her foster parents and Zach, her childhood friend who she just might be in love with. Then she discovers the curse on the women in her family when she reads her mother's diary. Lucy is destined for madness at 18 unless she can perform the three impossible tasks described in the song and break the curse of the Elfin Knight. Despite the ridiculousness of it all, she and Zach, along with her foster family, are determined to rid herself and her unborn child of the curse.

Impossible is fantasy in the same way The Time Traveler's Wife is a fantasy novel. It's grounded in reality but saturated with some sort of fantastical twist which drives the plot and despite the outward ridiculousness (an Elfin Knight cursed a long line of women to get pregnant at 17, have their baby, and go crazy?), it's completely believable. Even the characters' reactions as they begin to uncover the puzzle of the curse and put together their plan to defeat it are all completely believable and realistic. At no point, did I have any doubt or skepticism about what was happening. And I was incredibly sucked in. Once I picked it up, I had to finish it in that one sitting, because I was enthralled by Lucy and Zach (I love him) and how they would be able to conquer this magical curse.

I've mentioned before that I'm hopelessly drawn to first person narratives, and despite how engaged I felt by this story, I felt a certain detachment from the voice, as it was written from third person point of view. True it allowed readers to see glimpses into the minds of all the characters involved - Lucy, Zach, Soledad and Leo, and even the Elfin Knight himself. But I missed the connection and the resulting emotions from hearing the story from the protagonist's voice. I would have loved to hear Lucy and Zach tell the story in alternating voices. But that is the only critique, and it's a minor one.

Impossible is a beautiful story, and as soon as I have to give back my loaned copy, I will have to go out and purchase one for my home library. Which begs the question - should I get the paperback or hardcover? Normally, I'm drawn to hardcovers. I can loan them out (without the dusk jacket) and they don't look beat up or creased when they come back, and they just look nicer (I know I'm kind of a neurotic freak). But since Impossible has different cover art on the hardcover and paperback editions, I'm torn between which one I like better.

Impossible (Hardcover, released September 18th, 2008)

Impossible (Paperback, released August 11th,2009)

So one of my questions is this: why the cover art change? To me, both covers are beautiful, and I'm shamelessly attracted to the simplistic enchanting beauty of both. So why would the publisher change the art? The only thing I can think of is that the first cover looks more adult to me (don't ask why, I have no reasons, just that it does). What do you think? And which one do you like better - if you had to choose?

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Patti (@TheLoveJunkee) said...

Both covers are gorgeous. This story sounds intriguing, and I'm going to have that song in my head all day!

Kristin Halbrook said...

Ah, I remember reading this one. And liking it. I read the hardcover and it's funny that you bring the art up, because I always wondered what the deal was with the stuff comming off the character. Hair? Fishing net? Tentacles? I love the wave at the top of the hardcover, but I think I actually like the paperback art better. The colors are beautiful.

pepsivanilla said...

Oh my goodness, I just read this book and LOVED it. If you haven't read it, DO IT!

Anyways, I like both, but I think I like the paperback more.

Chick Lit Teens said...

Wow, I've seen both of the covers and wanted to read both of the books. I had no idea they were the same!

Charlotte said...

I liked the book very much too!

But I don't like the paperback cover. If the wind is so strong, why aren't the grasses blowing in it too?

Leslie said...

i didnt really love this one but i didnt hate it =) great review i agree with the pov! it wouldve been a little more awesome to hear from her and zach =) and i have the paperback but then i think you should get the hardback because the way it's idk done when you start loaning it, it would prob get messed up