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Impossible
by Nancy Werlin

Published: 2009-08-11
Paperback : 384 pages
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A beautifully wrought modern fairy tale from master storyteller and award-winning author Nancy Werlin.

Inspired by the classic folk ballad ?Scarborough Fair,? this is a wonderfully riveting and haunting novel of suspense, romance, and fantasy. Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that she ...

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Introduction

A beautifully wrought modern fairy tale from master storyteller and award-winning author Nancy Werlin.

Inspired by the classic folk ballad ?Scarborough Fair,? this is a wonderfully riveting and haunting novel of suspense, romance, and fantasy. Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that she is the latest recipient of a generations-old family curse that requires her to complete three seemingly impossible tasks or risk falling into madness and passing the curse on to the next generation. Unlike her ancestors, though, Lucy has family, friends, and other modern resources to help her out. But will it be enough to conquer this age-old evil?

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Ten minutes after the last class of the day, Lucy got a text message from her best friend, Sarah Hebert. “Need u,” it said.


“2 mins,” Lucy texted back. She sighed. Then she hefted her backpack and headed to the girls’ locker room, where, she knew, Sarah would be. Nothing and nobody, not even Jeff Mundy, got in the way of track practice. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

Compare the novel’s version of the song “Scarborough Fair” with several
traditional and modern versions. How are they similar to the novel’s
version? What are the significant changes to the song in Impossible? Do
you know of other old ballads or stories that involve puzzles or riddles?
• One of the central themes of Impossible is true love. In your opinion, how
should a person who loves “truly” behave? Can true love be instantaneous,
or must it be proven by time and tests? How does Zach prove his love?
How does Lucy? In what ways do you think the examples of their parents’
marriages were helpful to Zach and Lucy?
• Discuss the different attitudes about love that Lucy and Sarah express at
the beginning of the book. How have their attitudes changed by the end
and what experiences have shaped those changes?
• What are the clues in the book that let the reader know Zach no longer sees
Lucy as just a friend or family member? What are the clues that tell you
how Lucy feels about Zach?
• What kinds of love are there besides romantic love? Can you find examples
in Impossible? How do these different kinds of love help Lucy to accomplish
her goals? Would she be able to succeed without those who love her?
• Lucy has two mothers: Soledad and Miranda. How do these very different
women act as mothers to her? How does Lucy’s attitude toward Miranda
alter by the end of the book? Can you identify the points in the book’s plot
where her attitude shifts, and why it does? Do you think that one is more
of a “real” mother to Lucy than the other? Explain your reasoning.
• Discuss Lucy’s friendship with Sarah. At one point, Lucy says that Sarah
has surprised her and that she had underestimated her. Have you ever
undervalued a friend? What are the characteristics of true friendship?
• When we first meet Padraig Seeley, he is described as “magnetic.” Why
does Padraig have such an irresistible effect on the people around him?
Do you think that people really can have that kind of influence over
others? Who was affected by Padraig’s charisma? Who was not? Why?
Lucy’s dog Pierre seems to dislike Padraig from the very beginning. What
clues did that give you about Padraig? Do you believe that animals like
dogs are really able to sense some things that people can’t, or is this just
a literary device used to make a point?
• Padraig always calls Lucy by her full name, Lucinda. In many traditional
tales about fairies, a person who knows someone’s real name has power
over them. Why do you think this is so? How does Lucy feel about her full
name? How does this affect what happens in the story?
• How else does naming figure into the novel? Are the meanings of names
in the novel important to the plot? Whose names are significant and how?
• Miranda tells Lucy she would be better off if she were an ugly girl and
expected less from life. What do you think she meant by that? Do you think
Lucy’s life would be better if she were unattractive and expected little?
What would change and what would remain the same?
• On prom night, Padraig acted in certain ways when he was at the
Markowitz home, which were described for the reader, but did other
things covertly, which the reader learns about indirectly. Discuss Padraig’s
public and hidden actions and describe their effects. What was Padraig’s
influence on Gray, before, during, and after the prom?
• Discuss how you would have approached the three impossible tasks.
Can you think of alternate strategies that might have worked?
• Put yourself in Lucy’s and Zach’s places as they faced an acre of land that
had to be plowed and sown in freezing sleet. How impossible does the task
seem? Try doing the math and calculate how many feet per minute Lucy
must plow in order to complete the task in time. Consider the size of an
acre, the length of each row, how far apart each row of corn should be, and
the amount of time between the tides in the real Bay of Fundy.
• Speculate on what might happen after the end of the book with the
Markowitzes, the Greenfields, the Spencers, Sarah, and some of the other
major characters in the book. Do you believe in “happily ever after?”
• What parts of Impossible are more like a fairy tale and what parts of the
story are realistic? Is there any overlap between what is realistic and what
is fantastical?
• One of the central themes of Impossible is true love. In your opinion, how should a person who loves "truly" behave? Can true love be instantaneous, or must it be proven by time and tests? How does Zach prove his love? How does Lucy? In what ways do you think the examples of their parents' marriages were helpful to Zach and Lucy?
• Discuss Lucy's friendship with Sarah. At one point, Lucy says that Sarah has surprised her and that she had underestimated her. Have you ever undervalued a friend? What are the characteristics of true friendship?
• Discuss how you would have approached the three impossible tasks. Can you think of alternate strategies that might have worked?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

A note from the author:

IMPOSSIBLE was inspired by the ballad Scarborough Fair. I loved the Simon & Garfunkel version as a teenager, but when I heard it again one day as an adult, I was struck by the lyrics. The man, singing, makes one impossible demand after another of the woman, and if she doesn't do as he says, she's "no true love" of his! I thought: There’s no way that woman can prove herself to that man; he’s already made up his mind. Did she do him wrong? What’s the story?

Could I construct a puzzle-type novel around the lyrics? Suppose, for some unknown reason, a girl has to prove her love by actually performing the three tasks. I’d use a modern setting, I planned, and I’d have her figure it out using technology. Surprise him. He’s wrong, it turns out. She does understand true love. She can prove it.

But I couldn’t quite imagine the situation under which the puzzle-solving would occur. The characters, the plot, the impetus, the urgency? Love was clearly involved, somehow, but I just didn’t know enough.

It took more than ten years for me to figure it out.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Fun, fast read"by riegerd (see profile) 03/07/11

I read this book in one day. It was quick, easy and interesting. Definitely a good one. I thought it would appeal to the Twilight or Shiver young adult group.

 
  "Interesting/easy read"by mylife580 (see profile) 09/28/10

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