The Easy Part of Impossible

HarperTeen. Apr. 2020. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062898289.
Gr 9 Up–High school senior Ria has long needed a modified schedule, and this novel follows her struggles with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the low self-esteem it causes. She is a skilled diver, but her coach, Benny, is physically and emotionally abusive, and won’t let Ria rejoin the team after she quits during a volatile moment. When a new school year begins, Ria reconnects with her childhood friend Cotton, who also has a modified schedule. Cotton is also neurodiverse and has suffered his own trials. His sister went missing years ago, and he is reluctant to attend college until she returns. As Ria develops feelings for Cotton, she gets what she’s hoped for: Benny reappears, saying she could qualify for a prestigious team. Fear is a major part of Ria’s story—diving always contains an element of fear, and though she fears Benny’s abuse, she believes that “pain is part of the process” and that no one is as invested in her as Benny. Both Ria and Cotton face internalized fears to confront Benny and physical obstacles. Told in third-person from Ria’s point of view, Tomp’s novel is compulsively readable and skillfully conveys the thoughts and feelings of her neurodivergent characters. Secondary characters are all distinct with well-defined motives, and the romance between Cotton and Ria pans out in a way that feels true to their characters. The buildup to the climax is compelling, and the story wraps up beautifully.
VERDICT A great fit for mid-size to large young adult collections.

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