Monday, July 30, 2018

The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman


Synopsis (via Goodreads): The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village.

When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan.

Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US asks—how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?

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The Impossibility of Us was a beautiful story about acceptance and following your heart even when the world is against you. Elise stood up to her family and sacrificed those relationships when it became clear they wouldn't let go of their prejudices. It's easier to deal with hate and ignorance when it's not directed at you and your choices.

Janie was my favorite character! She's Elise's three-year-old niece and always made me smile. Her wishes, love of cookies, and adoration for a father she'll never know... it was so sweet and heartbreaking. She also doesn't understand racism or hatred, or even know how to form those feelings, so she easily accepts Mati and his relationship with Elise. He was incredibly kind to her and told her stories that were relevant to his culture.

I enjoyed all of the information Katy Upperman included about Mati and his beliefs. I also liked that Elise researched things on her own. She wanted to understand and be knowledgeable. She made an effort to learn some of his language and customs, and he did the same.

At first some of the language felt weird, but I quickly learned it was just how Elise thought and spoke. She had a different way of perceiving the world, and it showed through her speech. When the wording felt awkward, I realized it was because Elise felt awkward herself. Her thoughts and feelings were represented in what she said. 

An observation that bugged me... At the beginning Mati claimed to only have a prepaid phone that they kept for emergencies, but later he's carrying it around and using it like a normal cellphone. He texts and calls Elise with little abandon, and a few messages and calls to Ryan. I wish the author would have mentioned the phone again and whether or not it was an issue for him to use it that way. Did he have to keep putting more money into it? If so, where did that money come from since they were in the states for his father's treatments?  No one was working (that I know of), so I'm not sure how they rented their cottage, paid bills, or bought groceries.

I really liked Ryan and his friendship with Elise, but I felt like they were instant friends that rarely saw each other. When they hung out it felt a little forced, so I wish more time had been spent on developing that relationship. He was so sincere and I wanted him to be a more prominent part of the story. 

It would be lovely if the author's story had been completely fictional, but the hatred and prejudice are real. People always have their reasons, and they feel like they're able to justify them, but it's never okay to despise one person for the actions of others. Would you want the world to judge American citizens for the actions of its president? I have no control over what he does or says, just like Mati has no control over what some Muslim/Afghans choose to do. 

Overall, The Impossibility of Us was a truly remarkable story that had me turning the pages through the wee hours of the morning (already on my second cup of coffee as I write this), and I cannot wait to read more from this author. 

12 comments:

  1. Wonderful review, Lindsi! I really loved this ne. I like the point you made about Janie not knowing hat or racism - she just knew that Mati was kind and told her stories. If only we could all retain that total acceptance.

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    1. Yes! Janie didn't judge Mati for anything. She didn't compare him to anyone else or think he was evil because of where he came from. Janie only knew he brought her wishes and told amazing stories. I love that she told her mom as much, too. There's nothing like brutal honestly from a child to bring your thoughts into perspective.

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  2. I love that I’m not the only one that picks apart inaccuracies in books. Sounds like this one has a good message.

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    1. I don't know why that detail stuck with me, but every time they mentioned talking on the phone all night or texting all day, I immediately thought about his prepaid phone (since it was only for emergencies). It seems like a weird thing to focus on, I know.

      There was a really great message in this one! <3

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  3. This sounds like a great read. I enjoy books that explore different cultures. It's great how Elise also does her own research. I also love how Janie is your favorite character; young children in literature can be such fun!

    The detail about the prepaid fun would bug me too; it wouldn't have taken much to address it.

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    1. I agree! It's really hard to travel the world on a whim, so it's nice to learn about different places, cultures, languages, etc. from books. I like that Elise cared enough to want to know more. She wanted to understand Mati and where he came from.

      Jani was the sweetest! I hate that she was used against Elise at one point. It broke my heart and pissed me off at the same time.

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  4. It sounds like I definitely need to try this author and this book! Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. I highly recommend Katy Upperman! Kissing Max Holden is next on my list. :)

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  5. This sounds like a really timely book. I like that the author showed how children aren't predisposed to hatred or racism, they just love everyone.

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    1. Yes! That was one of my favorite things about this book. Janie saw what was right in front of her. She didn't associate Mati with her father's death, but saw a kind person that made her laugh and was friends with her Auntie.

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  6. Sounds cute, I really like the title.

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    1. I think the title fits the story perfectly! <3

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