Book review by
Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media
Impossible Book Poster Image
Well-written, twisted fairytale has mature themes.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Lucy's mother is mentally ill and homeless. She throws glass bottles at Lucy and her family. Despite taking medication to prevent it after the rape, Lucy becomes pregnant as a senior in high school. Her parents and friends bring up the option of abortion, but Lucy is determined to keep the baby. Lucy stays in school while pregnant and makes up her missed work after the baby is born. Lucy realizes "how the adults had been right that, under normal circumstances, marriage and a baby would possibly not have been the right choice at this time in life."


Lucy is raped by her prom date while he is possessed by an evil Elfin Knight. It's clear what's happening but it's not graphically described. Her date dies that night when his car smashes into a tree in a supposed drunk-driving accident. Lucy's friend says he hopes the deceased boy's last moments were full of pain and he is gang-raped in hell. The Elfin Knight threatens to punish Lucy for getting married, saying, "Perhaps I will make you kill him for me."


There is an oblique reference to a young man's erection. Lucy's teenage friend refers to her own sexual experience with an ex-boyfriend before offering to answer any of Lucy's questions (nothing explicit). On their honeymoon, Lucy alludes to two showerheads in a shower and asks her new husband if he wants her to scrub his back. Miranda has sex with a boy to please a beautiful man (the Elfin Knight).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The family drinks champagne in celebration; the Elfin Knight (disguised as a human) offers wine to underaged Zach, who refuses it. Miranda drinks a beer at a party, then wonders if she had sex because she was drunk.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Written byAnonymous March 9, 2015
Inspired by the Medieval ballad, "Scarborough Fair," Impossible is a fantastical story about a rape, a family curse, a legacy of insanity, and a high... Continue reading
Parent of a 17-year-old Written byinfinity2 September 28, 2009
Teen, 13 years old Written bypizzavince May 29, 2010

Wonderful Book

This is honestly the best book I have ever read. I think that there is nothing in this book that a normal 13 year old wouldn't know about. The book covers... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byimaginationislife January 18, 2016

In the process of readinngggg


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.

Book details

  • Author: Nancy Werlin
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Dial Books
  • Publication date: September 17, 2008
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12
  • Number of pages: 384
  • Last updated: July 13, 2017

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