FICTION

The Summer of Impossibilities

Abrams/Amulet. May 2020. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781419741128.
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Gr 7-10–When Scarlett and Skyler’s mother discovers that their father is seeing another woman, she and the sisters leave for the lake house where she spent summers in her youth. They are joined by a few of her oldest friends and two of their teenage daughters, Ellie and Amelia Grace. The four girls knew each other once but have since grown apart, so spending the summer together brings awkwardness but also opportunity. Inspired by journals left behind by their moms’ generation, they form a club to play poker, drink Southern Comfort, wear pearls, be completely honest, and accomplish something impossible before the end of the summer. Narration cycles between the four girls, each with a distinct and consistent voice. Sometimes one girl is given a full chapter and backstory. Sometimes a single event is seen through multiple perspectives. It all works effectively for moving the story forward and demonstrating the challenges and growth of the individual characters. Skyler is a fantastic athlete but juvenile arthritis is threatening to end her softball career. Scarlett, whose forearms bear scars of self-harm, is struggling to hold on to a relationship despite a troubled past. The sisters’ love, concern, and frustration with one another feels strong and authentic, while one friend, Amelia Grace, is trying to reconcile her homosexuality with her conservative Christian faith, and the other, homeschooler Ellie, faces up to her critical lack of social skills.
VERDICT To Allen’s credit, the story covers potentially toxic elements with grace, humor, and maturity, never getting bogged down or growing maudlin. Instead, it stays firmly rooted in the gentle affection among the characters and their sturdy humanity, which never falters.

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