Saturday, February 5, 2011

An Impossibly Good Tale

With such a haunting cover and a vague description on the book jacket, the reader who picks up this book has to take a leap of faith. The blurb mentions a song, a curse, something about mental illness, and not much more. You are left wondering if the book is worth unraveling such nonsense... and trust me it is! Impossible by Nancy Werlin is a haunting story full of love, pain, and supernatural mystery that will keep you turning the pages all night long.

Lucy Scarborough has been tormented by her mother's insanity for years. Lucy's foster parents, Soledad and Leo, take wonderful care of Lucy. In a way, they do for Lucy what they couldn't do for Lucy's mother, Miranda, when she came to them 17 and pregnant with no place to go. They took care of Miranda, but as soon as she gave birth to Lucy, she was lost in a world of her own madness. Lucy is so humiliated and saddened by her birth mother that she doesn't tell anyone her story, except Zach. Zach has stayed with her foster parents for years and is finally back on Christmas break from college. While Lucy has always trusted Zach with everything, she is starting to see him as more than just a family member.

When prom comes around, Zach helps convince the overprotective Soledad to let her go. Although he is jealous of the nerdy boy she is going with, he thinks it is important Lucy gets some normal fun in her life. Unfortunately, prom night is anything but normal or fun. After the dance, Lucy follows her date back into the ballroom where he forgot something. In the ballroom, he admits he didn't forget anything, but just wanted some time with her. Then he proceeds to rape her. Lucy tries to stop him, but something happens to his face as he hurts her- it seems to shift as though someone else is inside his body. When Zach finds her, the wheels start turning to help her. She goes to the hospital, the mysterious new employee at Soledad's practice gets Lucy the morning after pill, and they find a therapist for her to talk to.

About two months later, it becomes very clear to Lucy that she is pregnant, despite the prevention she took. When she finally confides in Zach and her parents, they are very supportive of her decision to keep the baby. Then Lucy learns something of her past. She finds her mother's diary from when Miranda was pregnant. While the diary is telling, there are pages ripped out. When Lucy remembers the false bottom of a shelf she found as a kid, she finds the missing diary pages. In them, Miranda tells of a curse placed on the Scarborough girls generations ago by an evil faerie king. When Fenella Scarborough refused to be her queen, he cursed her generations to come with an early pregnancy that creates another girl in the line and drives the mother mad once she is born. Miranda's diary pages also explain the song "Scarborough Fair" tells of the curse and the three impossible tasks Lucy can perform before she gives birth that will end the curse. Lucy must make a shirt with no seems and constructed with no needles. She must find an acre of land between "the salt water and the sea strand" and she must plow that land with a goat's horn and sow it with one grain of corn. While the tasks seem impossible, Zach and Lucy's parents won't give up on her. From genealogical research to prove the curse is real, to searching real estate for the acre of land between the salt water and the sea strand, to work with fabrics and materials to create the seamless shirt, the whole family is determined to save Lucy and her baby girl. But can they beat the clock and beat the faerie king in one fell swoop?

Oh, Nancy Werlin, you wove such an intriguing tale! This story is mysterious and clever, with a plot that continuously reveals little tidbits until you finally have the whole, crazy story. The vague description of the book made me wary- I am not fond of books that stay shrouded in mystery for all but the last 50 pages. It drives me nuts! While this book has a vague beginning, the pace of revelation throughout the book is wonderful. New twists are revealed and unfolded at a pace that keeps the reader from losing interest but still keeps them wanting more.

The material seems heavy and mature, but it is handled with the utmost of grace and dignity. While the rape is certainly traumatizing for Lucy, it isn't the central story. I also liked how her parents dealt with the rape and the pregnancy- very upfront, honest, and supportive. I suspect some people would hesitate in giving this book to students because of the content, but they would be overlooking the incredible messages embedded within the mature scenarios. Yes, Lucy is pregnant, but she trusts her parents enough to openly talk to them about it, not hide it from them. Yes, Lucy is raped, but her family is proactive, seeks a therapist, and support Lucy every step of the way. And while Lucy acknowledges the unfortunate timing of her pregnancy, she loves her unborn daughter and will fight against the impossible in order to protect her. I know there are many adults out there who would shy away from exposing mature situations to young readers. While I understand that urge, I think the right book with mature situations handled well is just as powerful in a positive way. This book is well written and any maturity is handled beautifully. So make it all possible and give this amazing book a chance!

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