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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while this book is a contemporary fairy tale, it has dark undercurrents, including date rape, teen pregnancy, mental illness, sexual slavery, and supernatural curses. Two young people wed very young despite parental objections; this is presented as romantic though admittedly not ideal.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
Seventeen-year-old Lucy Scarborough just wants to be normal high-schooler with a nice date for the prom. She wishes her mentally ill mother would stop showing up an inopportune moments to offer bizarre bits of advice, like telling her to "Pay attention to the song. Now it's your turn." But when Lucy is raped and ends up pregnant, her mom's warnings start making frightening sense. A variation on the folk song "Scarborough Fair" explains that her family has been cursed: "If you do not perform the three tasks successfully by the time your daughter is born, then everything that has happened to your mother will happen to you. And then to your daughter." Can Lucy, with the help of her foster parents and her devoted boyfriend, complete an evil Elfin Knight's seemingly impossible tasks before it's too late?
Is it any good?
Centered on the lyrics of the folk song "Scarborough Fair," IMPOSSIBLE is a novel, engaging entry to the fractured-fairy-tale genre. In Werlin's version, the singer is not just a demanding lover (how exactly does one make a shirt "without no seam nor needlework"?) but a demon who curses a woman who spurned his advances. Passed from mother to daughter, the curse's full horror dawns on Lucy as she struggles to deal with a burgeoning love interest, pregnancy, and a teen's normal push for independence.
Werlin adeptly weaves the supernatural into her modern setting, balancing magic with the realistic hardships of rape and teen pregnancy. Though the tale is not scary, the seductive Elfin Knight is a truly evil villain. The book's pace slows a bit, but picks up toward the end as Lucy and her family strive to solve the curse's puzzling tasks.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of true love and how rarely people find their soul mates in high school. They can also discuss how much work it takes to care for a baby. Families might also want to listen to the Simon & Garfunkel version of the ballad and talk about how Werlin adapted the traditional folk song for her novel.