Wednesday, July 25, 2018

ARC Review: The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman

The Impossibility of Us
Author: Katy Upperman
Publication: Swoon Reads (July 31, 2018)

Description: The last thing Elise wants is to start over in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move to a sleepy coastal village to be closer to Elise’s sister-in-law and niece.

When Elise meets Mati during a beachside walk, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town, too. 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?

My Thoughts: Three years after losing her brother Nick while serving in Afghanistan, seventeen-year-old Elise moves from San Francisco to a small, sleepy coastal California town to be nearer to her sister-in-law and three-year-old niece. Her mother, who has spent the last three years suffering from writer's block, is not writing again. Elise is lonely. Her only saving grace is her new goldendoodle puppy Bambi and her photography.

One morning, while walking Bambi on the beach, she rescues a young man who has ventured too far into the dangerous water. The two meet again another day and begin a tentative friendship. One serious roadblock to their friendship is that Mati is Afghan. Elise's mother blames all Afghans and all Muslims both for the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and for the death of her son in Afghanistan. Another major roadblock is the Mati is only in the United States until mid-August because his father is undergoing cancer treatment.

Elise's mother hates the very idea of Mati and refuses to meet him. She keeps encouraging Elise to fix her sites on Ryan who is the grandson of their next door neighbor. He's also visiting for the summer before heading off to Texas A & M. Her mother is willing to overlook the fact the Ryan is gay. Elise and Ryan do become friends but she falls in love with Mati despite their many cultural differences.

I loved the way Mati and Elise's romance developed despite the huge obstacles in their way. I hated both Elise's mother and her sister-in-law for their prejudice and racism. I also had no sympathy for her mother's self-indulgent and excessive grief. She got so buried in her grief for Nick that she emotionally abandoned her fourteen-year-old daughter to indulge it. Her every utterance in the book was an I-statement completely overlooking that Elise was also grieving the loss of her brother.

The writing was beautiful and lyrical. Elise's portions of the story were first person narrations. Mati's sections were written in verse. I liked the occasional quotes from 13th Century Sunni Muslim poet Rumi too.

Favorite Quote:
I'm not sure if my prejudice was ingrained in me by my mother. who's feared Muslims since the Twin Towers fell -- doubly after my brother was killed -- or if I've chosen narrow-mindedness because it's easier than acknowledging how utterly complex this world is, but I'm certain of this: Nick would disapprove of complacent ignorance.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

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