Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

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Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Reviewed by Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Summary: A diverse, bold and evocative tale of friendship, love and growing up, with plenty to enjoy, though the structure and conclusion could've been better.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Macmillan
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781509805141

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Jeremy, Mira and Sebby are very different people, each with their own complex and difficult issues, who find themselves inexplicably drawn together. Jeremy is an artist, painfully shy and still struggling to get over the horrible incident that ruined his last year of school. Mira is cool and fashionable, but suffers from depression, constantly fighting against a sleep that threatens to overpower her for days on end. Then there's Sebby, flamboyant, irreverent and charming, but with hurt and troubles simmering behind his façade, and no family or support network to lean on. The powerful friendship and love that forms between them could save them from their broken selves, but it could just as easily drag them all down together.

This was another hard one to review; after finishing the book, it took me a while to really pin down my feelings about it. At times, Fans of the Impossible Life is sublime, a moving tale of growing up in an inhospitable world and the power of friendship and finding people who understand you for who you really are. Witty dialogue sparks off the page alongside touching character moments and emotional, hard-hitting exploration of mental health. Not only are the central trio sympathetic and likeable, the wider cast of characters, including family and teachers, is very well portrayed. Yet, at other points, I felt the story was all over the place, I struggled to connect with the lives of Jeremy, Mira and Sebby, and the conclusion lacked an emotional resolution.

Their relationship forms the heart of the story, but despite the wonderful chemistry they have with each other, and their respective powerful backstories, I felt their relationship needed more time to grow and develop depth. Despite being interesting, likeable characters with plenty of good dialogue, I felt the narrative format impinged upon the characterisation, making it hard to connect with them. Split between the points of view of Jeremy, Sebby and Mira, the narrative alternates between first, second, and third person respectively. Sebby's second person voice was particularly distracting and a big reason why I struggled to connect with him. Not only are the transitions between the different voices quite rough, there is a lot of moving back and forth in time as the backstories of the characters are gradually exposed. While this worked well in the case of Jeremy, with his story being revealed with stunning impact, I thought the timing of the flashbacks with Sebby and Mira were off, and cut up the flow of the story rather than enhancing it.

Considered on its own, Fans of the Impossible Life has a lot to offer. The pages are populated with a variety of interesting, realistic characters each with their own messy, complicated relationships. Furthermore, a plethora of diverse topics are touched upon, including first love, friendship, mental health, social isolation, bullying and homelessness, all approached with honesty and explored with a deft and subtle touch. While there are flaws, namely the jarring narrative style, the disorganised structuring of the plot and the rushed conclusion, none of these are deal-breakers. However, the quality of YA contemporaries over the last few years has been incredible, setting the bar very high. While Fans of the Impossible Life has some original ideas, it doesn't rank up there with the strongest releases of the year. Nonetheless, I did find it an enjoyable read and a strong debut from Kate Scelsa, who I look forward to seeing more from in the future.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Fans of the Impossible Life touched upon a lot of different themes and issues, so a number of recent contemporaries come to mind for recommendations. For a wonderful story of friendship I would recommend Since You've Been Gone by the ultra consistent Morgan Matson. Meanwhile, I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson also has an interesting, original narrative style, and is an absolute emotional rollercoaster. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven also does well with its portrayal of mental health problems. Finally, The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson is a phenomenal contemporary YA novel that is one of the best books I've read all year.

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Buy Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa at


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