Title: Fans of the Impossible Life
Author: Kate Scelsa
Hardcover: 360 pages
Published: September 8th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
My rating: 2 stars out of 5
Summary (Goodreads):A captivating and profound debut novel about complicated love and the friendships that have the power to transform you forever, perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.
Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eye.
Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.
As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.
Where do I start with this book?
My initial thoughts: This will be a light-hearted romance novel, involving LGBT+ characters and potentially a polyamorous relationship. It’ll be thought-provoking and humorous.
Oh, how wrong I was. Well, about the light-hearted bit anyway. Truth is, this book is exactly what I thought it’d be for the first half, before it takes a sharp turn into darker territory.
The book is written between three viewpoints, in 1st, 2nd and 3rd person, which should in theory give us an insight into each character and their life. For Jeremy and Mira (1st and 3rd person respectively), this works. Jeremy is a painfully shy art nerd who has withdrawn from his peers due to a trauma the year before. Mira has recently been enrolled at his school, after her old school couldn’t handle her needs. They meet through Peter (a teacher) who is encouraging Jeremy to branch out and make friends.
However, we had Sebby, who was written in 2nd person. For the first half of the book, he was amusing, witty and likeable – so much so that I could overlook the fact that his chapters were choppy and hard to read. At around the half-way mark, he became tolerable. By the end, I didn’t like him at all. He doesn’t seem to care about anyone else. He manipulates Jeremy and Mira. His character begins to fall apart at the seams.
Sebby’s relationship with Mira is realistic at first. They are best friends who met in a psych ward. When Jeremy comes along though, Sebby starts hooking up with him and then with Mira and then Mira and Jeremy kiss and somehow the three of them end up in bed together. It’s a mess of a love-triangle to say the least. The romance between all of them feels fake and forced. Out of all of the relationships, Mira and Jeremy’s friendship feels the most realistic.
The book grapples with multiple issues, for which I take my hat off to Kate Scelsa. Gay parents, foster homes and drugs are just a handful of the themes tackled, all with care and thoughtfulness. The most prominent for me was Mira’s parents and their lack of understanding her depression. One scene in particular elicited such a spark of rage that the book almost went flying across the room.
What I did like, however, was the fact that there were other characters present in the story who affected it. The entire plot was not solely hinged upon these three, but impacted by characters such as Rose, Talia and Peter. They weren’t living in a bubble and they did have authority figures ensuring that they didn’t run riot (admittedly, the ‘authority figures’ failed miserably in Sebby’s case.)
My main problem with the book is the ending. Too many plot lines were left open ended. Talia and Peter, for example: what happened to Peter? Did Talia ever see that what she did was wrong? And Mira’s sister? Did they ever patch things up? The whole plot was left gaping open, which whilst some people found intriguing and mysterious, I found aggravating.
Suffice to say, I had to read The Fault in our Stars to cheer myself up.