The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman
Release date: July 31, 2018
An ARC was provided by Fierce Reads in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Impossibility of Us promises a Romeo and Juliet-esque story where their families want to keep them apart, and it delivers on that with plenty of the expected drama. Thankfully, unlike Katy's debut novel, the tension and drama feel less cheesy.
The cast of characters is very small - Elise and Mati narrate, and the group is rounded out with Elise's mother, sister-in-law, and niece; Mati's parents; and the boy next door, Ryan. A small cast can be good; readers can get to know characters extremely well, and it makes the story intimate. I felt like that wasn't quite present in this book, though. I never connected with Elise or Mati, and it was annoying that pretty much all of the adult figures were portrayed as absent or wrong.
Mati's chapters were told through verse, but most of it didn't flow right to me. Honestly, I'd have rather his sections have been prose. I know it was meant to support his interest in writing, but it didn't quite work for me. At least the effort was made to show how much he loved to write, though. Elise was supposedly passionate about photography, but I never really got that. It was just something she did.
I persisted in finishing this book, but it was missing that spark that a good contemporary YA needs. I appreciated that the author wanted to write a biracial romance, but the rest of the story didn't support that well enough to make it a strong novel.
Content warning: Islamophobia, violence, discussions of death and war, PG levels of making out.
The Verdict: Alas, a bit disappointing.
Will I be adding this book to my library?: No.