This story of three outsiders — a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy who is in love with them both — may remind some of Perks of Being a Wall Flower but it’s a plot set up that goes back at least to Brideshead Revisited. However, this Indies Introduce Pick shows a kind of originality and spark that lets it stand tall on its own.
Teens are likely to be drawn into the compellingly-told story of Sebby the gay teen who is out and proud in world but who is bullied at school and closeted in his foster home; Jeremy the shy boy with two gay dads who has feelings for both Sebby and Mira; and Mira who struggles with her own feelings for both boys. I admired the skill of this debut author writing in three different points-of-view—and also in third person, first person, and second person respectively. These shifts are well done and add a real sophistication to the writing.
Scelsa debuts with an evocative novel about finding friendship, love, and oneself, as well as the pain that often accompanies the journey. When Jeremy, a shy artist who has kept to himself after a humiliating incident at school left him scarred and vulnerable, meets Mira and Sebby, two sophomores with troubled pasts, the three form a strong bond. Mira, who is struggling to tame debilitating depression, makes Jeremy feel a profound sense of belonging, while his attraction to Sebby, an openly gay foster kid, ignites a passion he’s never known. But Sebby’s demons, Mira’s self-doubts, and Jeremy’s insecurities begin to seem too much for the trio to bear, and their world of shared laughter and easy camaraderie starts to crumble. Scelsa alternates among the perspectives of these three characters seamlessly, allowing readers to feel their raw emotions and deep emotional needs. Themes of betrayal, forgiveness, and resilience resonate strongly, while the characters’ stories are so beautifully told and their struggles so hauntingly familiar that they will stay with readers long after they have finished the book.
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Rounded characters large and small, drawn with insight and empathy, drive the plot. Buoyant writing and wry humor balance the pathos in this powerful debut, a moving tale of friendship as refuge and shield against a hostile world.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Mira, Jeremy and Sebby are trying to live the “impossible life”. They are three friends, supporting one another, as they each work through the issues that define them – and make them different from one another. Can their supporting friendship conquer all? This story is poignantly told, in their three unique voices – the voices of teens dealing with mental health issues, sexual orientation, foster care, discrimination and more. The honesty and grit in their voices is so real and eye-opening that parents and teachers, as well as teens, should be reading this stunning debut.”
— Arna Lewis, Buttonwood Books & Toys, Cohasset, MA
Fans of the Impossible Life (9780062331755) by Kate Scelsa. $17.99 hardcover. 9/1/15 on sale.