Monday, December 21, 2009


Lucy Scarborough is excited about her life. She's been asked to the prom by a genuinely nice guy, and she's found the perfect dress to wear. Her stepparents are so kind and loving and supportive - even if they're just a bit overprotective. And her good friend Zack is coming to stay with them for the summer.

It's funny how just when things are going so right, they can so suddenly take a turn for the terrible. First her mother shows up at school - luckily no one knows the crazy bag lady is Lucy's mother - but it's unsettling. Then the lovely dream of her prom night turns into the worst kind of nightmare, leaving Lucy the victim of sexual violence. Just when she thinks she might be able to move on with her life, she discovers that the morning after medicine did not work as expected. Lucy is pregnant.

As Lucy struggles to come to terms with the turn her life has taken, she discovers that, unbelievable as it might seem, she is one in a long line of cursed women. The words of "Scarborough Fair," the song she knows by heart thanks to her mother, are a message to her. She must perform the impossible tasks set forth in the song, or she, too, will be cursed to go insane after the birth of her baby, just as her mother did, and her grandmother before that - a long line of cursed Scarborough women going back in time. The faerie who has perpetrated this curse is always nearby, gleefully watching as she draws closer and closer to falling into his trap. But Lucy has something that none of her ancestors ever did - a pair of supporting, loving parents and - just maybe - a chance at true love. Even so, the three impossible tasks remain, and as her pregnancy progresses, it grows clear that time is running out.

This is a captivating story, a fantasy romance with lots of suspense that draws from British folklore as well as the lyrics of the traditional ballad "Scarborough Fair." Unlike many teen novels, the main character in this novel has close connections to the adults in her life, and instead of turning inward or only consulting her friends, Lucy turns to them for help. They are depicted as actual people, rather than two-dimensional role models, which gives the story greater depth. Lucy is strong and resourceful, but she also understands - eventually - that she cannot handle things all alone. Surviving the rape is difficult enough without having to deal with a curse on top of things, and her resilience would not be nearly as believable without her strong and supporting family. The growing romance between Zack and Lucy is also handled skilfully and will have readers rooting for them every step of the way.

This is the first book I've read by Nancy Werlin, and I'm certain it won't be my last!

Impossible by Nancy Werlin (Dial Books, 2008)

Also reviewed at:
Angieville: "Impossible reminded me of an end of high school version of Pamela Dean's Tam Lin. It had that same eerie, lyrical feel to it and I had similar responses to both books."
Becky's Book Reviews: "It's good. It's a page turner. It matches my high expectations in a Werlin novel."
Confessions of a Bibliovore: "Impossible is about a pregnant teenager in the same way that Hamlet is about a guy who’s a little down these days. Technically true, but there’s so much more to the story."


  1. This sounds like a good book. Thanks for the review. I love the cover.

  2. Serena - I really enjoyed it. When I was reading that last part of the book I think a bomb could have gone off and I wouldn't have noticed!

  3. What an interesting premise! I actually have Pamela Dean's Tam Lin and several other stories based in folklore on my shelf at the moment...perhaps I should dedicate a couple of months to them. Thanks for the recommendation Darla...another one on the list! ;)

  4. Mariel - Oh, I loved Tam Lin! Can't wait to hear what you think of that one, and this one, too.

  5. I've been wanting to read this for a while - I read another of Nancy Werlin's books, a while ago, and found it quite riveting, but actually this was the one I wanted. I love retellings of stories and ballads.

  6. Jenny - I love retellings, too. Which other book by Werlin have you read? I haven't decided which one to try next.

  7. I think I've seen this with a different cover but I'm not sure. I like the folklore angle of the book but I'm not entirely sure if I'd like it or not.

  8. Ladytink - Yes, there is another cover, but I liked this one better - plus it's the one on the book that I read. Not sure if this is your cup of tea - it's got a very sweet romance, and the characters are very sympathetic. I think you'd probably enjoy it.


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