Parents' Guide to


By Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Well-written, twisted fairytale has mature themes.

Book Nancy Werlin Fantasy 2008
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What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 16+
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 school junior's pregnancy. The student in question is smart, spunky Lucy Scarborough who so far has led a charmed life. She does well in school, has plenty of friends, and two wonderful adoptive parents. Okay, so there is one problem: occasionally Lucy's crazy bag-lady birth mother, Miranda, will show up at her school or her adoptive family's house and start flinging trash, but aside from that, everything is perfect. Then Lucy goes to her junior prom with Gray Spencer, a sweet, nerdy band geek who passes the wary approval of her over-protective guardians. But after the dance, something strange happens. Something she can't quite explain. As Lucy and her date are leaving for the afterparty, Gray undergoes a sudden, violent personality change, and rapes her. Seeming to come to his senses, he then flees, and fatally crashes his car only a few miles from the scene of the crime. Weeks after these bizarre events, Lucy realizes she's pregnant, and decides to keep the baby in a tribute to her own birth mother's decision to keep her. A few months later, Lucy discovers her mother's old diary and learns a shocking truth: an ancient curse has affected the female members of her family for generations. Apparently her ancestress, Fenella, rejected the sexual advances of a supernatural being (the Elfin Knight) and caused him to curse her. Because of this, each woman of her line is doomed to fall pregnant by 17, and go mad shortly after giving birth to a daughter. The only way to avoid such a fate, Miranda writes, is to fulfill the Elfin Knight's three impossible demands: she must sew a shirt without any seam or needlework, find an acre of land between the ocean and the shoreline, and then sow the entire acre with a single kernal of corn, using a goat's horn as a plow. Together, with the support of her adoptive parents and her childhood best friend, Zach, Lucy sets off to solve the tasks before it's too late. Impossible is a novel with a unique premise and loads of potential, but it is not a very good story. Its key problem lies in its faulty execution, and the fact that Lucy Scarborough's real-world problems are resolved with relative fairy tale ease. Lucy loses her virginity through rape? Not to worry. Fortunately for her, she has mental powers of impermeability against the long-term trauma of sexual assault. What about the little matter of Lucy going nuts and leaving her newborn defenseless and alone? No problem. She and Zach fall in love and get married at age 18 and 20, so at least her child will have a father-figure. Oh, sure, Zach's parents are a little upset that their son dropped out of college to marry a girl having another man's rape-baby, but hey, everyone wants grandbabies, right? Oh, and the prom date-rapist, Gray? His character's function is to act solely as a sperm-donor, and is only mentioned once or twice afterwards. Not very tactful, in my view. The verdict: sophomoric, pedestrian, and not nearly as clever as it could have been. Reluctantly recommended for Ages 16-18.
age 13+

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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.

Book Details

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

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