Review of “The Impossibility of Us” by Katy Upperman

Upperman, Katy. The Impossibility of Us. New York: Swoon Reads, 2018. 

Hardcover | $17.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1250127990 | 303 pages | YA Contemporary Romance

5 stars

The Impossibility of Us is yet another book I picked up on a whim in my continuing exploration of multicultural literature. Given that it’s not #ownvoices, I was initially hesitant, but I decided to give it a chance, based on the generally good reviews.

And it ended up blowing me away. Not only does Katy Upperman show great sensitivity toward Afghan culture and beliefs, she also managed to weave these elements into a compelling novel that deals with the issues Middle Eastern people face today in such a wonderful way. Mati is caught between feeling a sense of responsibility to follow his parents’ wishes and marry to secure political connections, and his growing love for Elise. And Elise, in turn, coming from an environment where her family completely rejects him not only due to the stereotypes about Afghan people but the more personal reason that her brother was killed in action in Afghanistan.

I loved that, even if the issues with their respective parents aren’t fully resolved, things ended on a relatively optimistic note. While it would be nice for people to gain more perspective in situations like this, the reality is that some people are so set in their ways and beliefs that they can only compromise so far, and I like that this book acknowledges that.

The writing style is also a win. While dual first person books are still something of a hit-or-miss, I loved how Mati’s perspective was differentiated from Elise’s through his sections being composed in verse, which reflects his interest in writing. This style added extra poignancy to his perspective, like the moment when he talked about the stark differences between Cypress Beach and home in Kabul, or the scene where he’s attacked for being Afghan.

I would recommend this one to anyone who is interested in romances that also touch on serious real world issues.

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