by Nancy Werlin


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A beautifully wrought modern fairy tale from master storyteller and award-winning author Nancy Werlin

Inspired by the classic folk ballad “Scarborough Fair,” this is a wonderfully riveting novel of suspense, romance, and fantasy. Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that she is the latest recipient of a generations-old family curse that requires her to complete three seemingly impossible tasks or risk falling into madness and passing the curse on to the next generation. Unlike her ancestors, though, Lucy has family, friends, and other modern resources to help her out. But will it be enough to conquer this age-old evil?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142414910
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 08/11/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 479,140
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.52(h) x 1.06(d)
Lexile: HL670L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Nancy Werlin writes YA fiction that ranges from realistic fiction to suspense to fantasy, often breaking the boundaries between genres. Her books have gathered awards too numerous to mention, but including National Book award finalist, Edgar award winner and finalist, New York Times bestseller, L.A. Book Prize finalist, and IndieBound Top Ten. Nancy's first novel, Are You Alone on Purpose, was a Publishers Weekly Flying Start pick.
Of Nancy's suspense fiction, Sarah Weinman says, "Chances are, many of you haven't heard of this author. That would be a shame, because she's simply one of the best crime novelists going right now. Period." These titles are where Nancy habitually breaks genre-separation rules and include The Rules of Survival (a National Book Award finalist), The Killer's Cousin (Edgar award winner), Locked Inside (Edgar award nominee), Black Mirror (which the Washington Post called "an edge-of-your seat thriller"), and Double Helix (named to multiple best-of-year book lists). 
Nancy's unusual fantasy fiction was inspired by the ballad Scarborough Fair and includes the loose trilogy Impossible (a New York Times bestseller), Extraordinary (featuring a rare thing in fantasy fiction: a Jewish heroine), and her personal beloved, Unthinkable. 
For fun, Nancy also writes and draws a graphic memoir in comics, using her Tumblr to self-publish an episode three times a week. 
Her favorite book in all the world is Jane Eyre. 
A graduate of Yale, Nancy lives near Boston, Massachusetts with her husband.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Excerpted from "Impossible"
by .
Copyright © 2009 Nancy Werlin.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

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Impossible 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 336 reviews.
MsOrange78 More than 1 year ago
The first 20 pages or so of this book sucked me in while skimming it at Barnes and Noble. Plus, the cover just looked awesome, and the fact that Gregory Maguire recommended it pretty much sold me. Usually when I buy books, I buy them online so that I can see customer reviews and a thorough description of the book... this book is the reason why I do that. The story is of Lucy, an 18 (or 17 at some point possibly) girl that has been given the impossible task to break a curse that has been placed on her family for an unknown number of generation, or destined to suffer the fate of going "crazy" after giving birth to her child at the age of 18. The idea intrigued me, and the idea, if done properly, could make for a great epic tale with a strong heroine. When done poorly, you get this book. Not only are major plot points lacking in structure,("Hey Mom, hey Dad, I am working to fight an Elfin Knight's curse, will you help?" "SURE!!!" "Oh, and I'm getting married to Zach, you know, the poorly built character that is known from page 10 I will fall madly in love with... yea him, we're getting married!" "No probleme-o!"), but the story line and the characters reaction are just so unrealistic! Awesome urban fantasy is fantasy that you can actually believe in. There is no great climatic build up to a grand conflict of good VS evil, and how Lucy and Zach work to complete the tasks is very unrealistic and lacking in detail. I could go on, but I won't. This book received 2 stars instead of 1 because the story line was intriguing enough to make me actually want to finish the book (which I did) and find out what happened... I kept holding out thinking "IT's going to get better... it's going to pick up!" only to be disappointed. The fact that this book has a "group discussion" at the back is laughable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
***SPOILER WARNING*** So I picked up this book after seeing it had great reviews on and Barnes and Noble. About two pages in I couldn't stop laughing at the horrible writing, pathetic characters, and boring senseless plot. Teachers and parents- please be aware that this book deals with the following topics: 1. Rape (which goes unreported in the book and the main character magically gets over it rather quickly) 2. Teen pregnancy which of course leads to discussions of abortion 3. Teen alcohol use (does it matter if you're under age- of course not!) 4. Sex, sex, and more sex 5. The worst pregnancy advice I can imagine (14 weeks in- sure abortions are fine. Yes- go plow a field when you're in labor!!!) Seriously... 6. Teen marriage based on the fact the child needs a father (yes young women, marry a man you don't love because you're having a child by someone other than him) 7. Teenagers burning through college savings to fly around the country 8. Oh, and an evil Elf Knight that haunts the song Scarborough Fair. Yes, an evil elf. I'm not going to say the author is horrible because I've never read anything from her before, but honestly I have no intention to read anything by her ever again. If this book was marketed towards an adult audience I would have much more respect for it. Just the fact that she has the main character going through "rigorous physical exercise training" in her 35th week of pregnancy floors me. This book was unbelievable, slow, and rather tedious to read. I would recommend the novel "A Curse as Dark as Gold" if someone is looking for a good, historical novel based on a traditional classic story.
SuperMomof4 More than 1 year ago
I REALLY liked "Impossible" by Nancy Werlin. The idea behind the book was intriguing and within the first 10 pages I was hooked and could not put the book down. The characters were easy to like and the tension continued right up to the end of the book. The language was clean and any sexual references were G-Rated, so I'm comfortable passing this one on to my older teens. It does reference a date rape and teen pregnancy, so I'll probably hold off on giving it to my younger teens until they are a little more mature. I look forward to reading other works by Nancy Werlin. Definitely a book I will recommend to others because it was just plain fun.
Elly3 More than 1 year ago
Let me start off by saying I read this book about two years ago during my creative writing class (not as a class assignment but of my own free will). The concept of course is intriguing and I enjoy how the author draws inspiration from the song. That enjoyment stops there. The book starts off with her getting raped. The events after are basically glossed over. She rebounds very quickly and it's never mentioned again, with no nightmares, little therapy and that kind of thing. It's used simply as a plot device and nothing more. The rest of the book goes between dragging on and being painfully slow, chapters skipping months and months because no one actually does anything. The characters, particularly the lead male, are hard to believe. He's too perfect. Not to mention during the final task when she is very pregnant, they start having sex. Aren't they supposed to be worried about that? They are trying to get as much time as they can get to figure out the last task, and they're doing one of the best things to do to bring on early labor. But no one mentions that to them. Not to mention I've never a met a woman who desires sex during the late third trimester, oh and not to mention she's doing hard workouts during this time too. With her mother figure being a nurse-midwife you would think she would have been informed to NOT do these things. Everything is hunky dory and perfect. The main character suffers no stress having a rape baby, and her hunky man has no problems sticking around and supporting her when pretty much any guy his age would run in clear the opposite direction. Maybe I would have liked this book more if it wasn't for the beginning, but the rest of the book is no saving grace. I had to fight eyerolls the whole book, and the worst part is that it is marketed for the WRONG audience. I would be horrified if my 12 year-old was reading this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd been very excited for this book. I love Celtic folklore and the plot sounded fascinating. The reviews from accredited critics seemed promising, and that it was a National Book Award finalist. PLUS, it was said to be romantic, mysterious and thrilling. I found it to be cheesy, obvious, and boring. I had to force myself to finish it, and that was a waste since I was able to predict the end by the 7th chapter. The writing was mundane, and repetitive, but never actually grasping the concepts and emotions-- they just kept on making circles around them. The romance was rushed and not deep enough. It would have been more realistic if Nancy Werlin had added more scenes to build up the close relationship with Zach and Lucy rather than just saying that they had a close brother-sister relationship and go way back - then WHAM, he suddenly loves her and cannot live without her as his 17 year old wife. I was also a little upset that Nancy Werlin tip-toed around "sex", when sex was really a reoccurring undertone/theme. You can't start a book off with rape (to a 17 year old virgin on her very 1st date) and sort of brush it off by summarizing in less than a chapter, that she was getting all the proper medical help and had a few restless nights, but she's alright and now delighted to be pregnant, and simply explain everything is ok, because of "magic"! I feel like love should have been more developed and less conversations about what they were going to make for dinner or purchase online. Also, the attitudes of the characters, how they were all just so ok with everything, with the rape, pregnancy, insanity, death, curse, and marriage that all took place in less than 9 months. Only a few brief moments do you read that it was sometimes hard. It was totally unrealistic. I didn't like any of the characters. I was looking forward for a challenge and got a 200 page book of disappointment. I'm starting to question what kind of critique and requirements are included in the National Book Award contest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story has a very brave heroine and an extremely supportive male counterpart. Even though she is faced with emotional and physical hardships she will not give up. Zach is a treasure. The ending is fantastic. I loved these characters and hated it when the book ended. Lucy Scarborough is only seventeen when she finds out that she's pregnant. While originally shocked, she soon comes to realize that this is what happens to Scarborough girls. Lucy quickly discovers that the women in her family have been cursed for generations by an evil elfin king. When the women become pregnant they then must complete three impossible tasks before their baby is born or else they become crazy once their child is born.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you were impressed by the violent twist of the novel Hunger Games and the romantic tension of the popular series Twilight, then a book I'd recommend for you is Impossible by Nancy Werlin. It's a novel of many genres such as romance, mystery, and adventure. This inspiring novel makes me think about how no matter how hard life gets, you shouldn't give up on it, because something good will come out of the problem eventually and you will realize that. In this adventurous novel, main character Lucy Scarborough, finds out and unfolds her ancestors and mothers history. It takes place in a little town of Massachusetts where Lucy is a foster child, but has always lived with her foster parents; Leo and Soledad. They shelter her and fear she will become like her mother, Miranda. Miranda, whom had Lucy at age eighteen, has gone mentally insane. When Lucy finds herself held down at prom, raped by the man she soon though she would call her boyfriend, she is devastated. A month later she finds out she is pregnant. Lucy, and her now husband, Zach Greenfield start to unravel the mystery of the Scarborough girls. And soon find out she and her mother's mother and her mother's mother, and so on, were cursed. To have a girl at eighteen and then go mentally insane because of Fenella Scarborough who rejected the man who had then cursed the family. Only being broken by three tasks, you will read that the curse is hard to break. With the help of Lucy's family they will attempt to break it. This novel is very different than anything I've ever read - the curse was a definite twist to the entire book. I was drawn to this novel because Werlin is a New York Times best author. I hope you check out or buy this novel, and enjoy it as much as I have!
acsimps More than 1 year ago
This story is about a girl (Lucy Scarborough) who has known her whole life that her mother (Miranda) is crazy and that the people who have raised her (Leo and Soledad Markowitz) did so because her mother was incapable. Lucy is seventeen and hoping to make it through the rest of high school with as little drama from her mother as possible. Unfortunately that is not in the cards for Lucy when Miranda shows up before her prom and starts throwing glass bottles at the group after pictures in the front yard. Lucy tries to recover the evening with her date, Gary, but when he forces himself on her at the prom her night goes from bad to worse. Why would he do this? Gary has always seemed so timid. A few weeks later the situation is complicated further by the news that Lucy is pregnant. Suddenly the curse her mother had always been babbling about is starting to seem too real to ignore. Generations ago an angry elfin knight placed a curse on the young Scarborough women. From then on each girl became pregnant before turning eighteen. After giving birth to a daughter, each girl went insane. The only way to break the curse was to complete three tasks described in the lyrics of the Scarborough Fair song passed down through the generations. The lyrics of the song provide the clues necessary to break the curse, but Lucy and her family will need to come up with creative solutions to complete these seemly impossible tasks. Through the whole process her foster parents and Zach her childhood friend (love interest....I don't want to spoil too much wink wink) are right be her side helping her break the curse and save her sanity. Will the elfin knight let Lucy slip away? Read it and find out :) Before reading this book I don't think I had ever heard "Scarborough Fair" but I had to go download it as soon as I finished this book. I really enjoyed this book. I think that it was very well written and Nancy Werlin did a great job with the story line. I highly recommend this book.
popetgrl023 More than 1 year ago
I think that this book had potential, but it could have been much more adventurous. It was as clean as it could have been, with a few exceptions. The romance part was sweet, but it wasn't satisfying enough to be a main theme in the book. It needed some more adventure. It had many opportunities to take off, but it seemed that each time the spark flickered and then died. The whole situation was a little disappointing. I would not recommend this book to someone who really likes to get into books, or to anyone who can't read a book in less then a couple of days.
vegie02 More than 1 year ago
Nancy Werlin knows how to spin her web well. The three (or four, depending on how you cont them) impossible tasks that Lucy must complete before her daughter is born are very tricky to figure out. They say to never judge a book by its cover, however this book is just as captivating at the cover itself. A very well put together story that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last word. A great book to keep on the book shelf to re-read over again. I recomend this to any person who is looking for a mysterious romance thriller. Well done Ms.Werlin!
Mdesmondobrien More than 1 year ago Lucy can't complain-her life could be worse. For example, she could still be living with her insane bag-lady of a mother, instead of her wonderful, supportive foster parents. Or she could be pregnant at seventeen, like the dozens of girls her foster mother treats every year. But when her mother returns one day at school, singing her own haunting version of "Scarborough Fair" and referring to an unbreakable curse, it seems like a bad omen that's hard to ignore. And when prom night goes horribly awry, Lucy begins to wonder if perhaps she's cursed after all. Wow. I can't really say that I was expecting this book! A beautiful cover, a fairy tale idea and a lyrical, flowing, almost skimming prose style-but a story that felt like a kind of sort of better version of Breaking Dawn. What to make of it? Maybe if I hadn't read Breaking Dawn first I could have enjoyed it more, because even though Impossible is definitely better than Breaking Dawn, the teen pregnancy love story theme feels a little tainted. And the elfin antagonist of Padraig Seeley is a bad guy you can see a mile away-a little subtlety would have been nice. However, Impossible has something that Breaking Dawn definitely didn't have, and that's wonderful, sympathetic protagonists-however 2-D the supporting characters might be. Lucy was believable, likeable, determined, relatable and strong, without being an iron-willed warrior woman. Don't get me wrong, those can be fun to read about; but it's nice every once in awhile to have a character that can be vulnerable, too. Zach, as well, made a sweet addition as the literal boy-next-door-turned-soulmate; even if I was a little bothered by the fact that everybody seemed to take a fairytale curse pretty much as an everyday thing. All in all, if you can accept the world as somewhere between ours and the mythical beyond, this touching romance is one of the best rainy day books I've ever read.
I_Love_Reading20 More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the best books EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I loved it so much that as soon as I finished it I made my friend read it too!!! The story was SO captivating and the characters were so real! I LOVed the book... anyone who enjoys fantasy and a great story will absolutley adore this book!
Jfaurie More than 1 year ago
I've wanted to read this book for a long time now, and I'm glad I did. I love to read, but finding a book that you can say had "originality" is almost impossible itself. But Impossble, was unique. The story was complex and as you read the book you see how well elements from early chapters tie into the initial plot. Like Lucy's Yaz shirt. This story was a little slow panning out, but definitely worth the time to read. After you read this book you can truly see the time and effort that the author spent in getting it right, granted there were a few areas that didn't interest me, all in all it was a great read.
reader247 More than 1 year ago
Honestly, I loved it. IT was a great book. THe characters were realistic and i loved the way the story unfolded. At first, Zach is just a friend helping out but at the end he's more than just a friend. THe only thing i didn't like was that we didn't get to learn what Lucy's real mother was really like. I would have liked to know more about her. Anyway, if your looking for a book that you won't be able to put down you found it. The ending was great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was based off of a ballad that I studied in school as a poem, and I think it did a very good job of describing what the ballad means. Yes, there were times when it made hardly no sense at all. But it was extremely emotional. And for those that haven't read and studied the ballad, you'll probably enjoy the book more. It's very good, and I recommended it to my English teacher. She's very picky about the books she reads, and she liked it. I recommend this to all! It's a great mixture of romance and fantasy.
sosieee More than 1 year ago
This book is definitely not like other books I've read. The whole backdrop of the book is an old folk song. The main character must complete 3 tasks in order to save her life and the lives of the generations to come. The storyline has good potential but it falls short in some places. I'll admit, some parts of this book were boring, but it was still a good read. However, the romance between the two main characters was somewhat unbelievable, but I suppose thats why it's a book!
Palmaleggera More than 1 year ago
This book provided readers with a new story, which is hard to do. It was decent enough to read all the way through but not one of those novels you pick up again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was interesting. I loved how the back cover talked vaguely about a curse and true love. And I bought it. So I was reading it and I thought it sounded fairly good. She was raped by her supposed date to the prom and gets pregnant. And throughout the book, it talked more and more about how Lucy, the main character, was pregnant than the three tasks she was supposed to complete. And the author only really talked about the last two tasks near the end of the book. It was good. I liked it. I would read it again if I had no other book around at the moment. But it wasn't my thing.
GtzLstNRding More than 1 year ago
This book is a shorter story, but I like how it takes the lyrics of a song and spings a tale for a young girl to deal with - a curse that has gone on for many generations. The song and lyrics will be familiar to you once you hear them. They are what capture the story and a young girls will to break it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is more for readers who are okay with a girl being raped and dealing with teenage pregnancy. I would NOT reccommend this to anyone who is looking for a good book.
PPBooks More than 1 year ago
I did not like this book at ALL! Make sure that you understand it is about a teen being raped and having to raise a kid. Horrible book that is hiding in the depths of my closet, never again to be taken out. I think what I disliked was that the summary said something about a curse and stuff and it sounded like it would be about like something cool. But it's about pregnancy. Not exactly my cup of tea...
lilmudduckmuffineater More than 1 year ago
I liked this book,it was OK. It wasn't the best or the worst I have ever read. Some parts were kinda borning to me and I had to force myself to read them. This book has a lil fantasy added but it's not got too much on the subject in it. The story is about 17 year old Lucy who has lived with foster parents(Soledad and Leo) her whole life because her mother(Miranda) is a crazy bag lady they hardly see. Then one night at her junior prom Lucy is raped and soon after learns she is pregnant and of the curse of her family,all the Scarborough women always get pregnant and have a daughter at 18 and go crazy soon after because they never finish the tasks in the song the Elfin Knight has set for them. Soon Lucy is overcoming all odds and also finds true love in her bestfriend Zach.I loved the plot,it's original,but I think so much more could have been done with it. Like I said it's an OK book,it might be just me, so go read it and find out for yourself!
defygravity22 More than 1 year ago
i am a little torn with this book. i loved it but i hated it. i loved the plot and the story behind the actual words. some parts on the story just came out of nowhere or they made sense but were at the wrong part of the story. i also did not like that the last half of the book is devoted to the wedding and marriage and then the last 20 or so pages are about the 2 and 3 task. it was a good book but it could have been so much better. everytime i would read it i would get Scarbourgh Fair stuck in my head. after awhile that got obnoxious not only to me but people i was around. i recommend this book just dont expect a lot from it.
Tori_J More than 1 year ago
I read alot of reviews about this book and that was the only reason I picked it up. But I found it depressing. Very depressing actually. It was kind of unbelieveable at times too. (thats leaving out the curse thing) She gets raped (very depressing) and she gets pregnant and she doesn't really seem to get too upset about it. I realize that's not what the book was about but you can't deny that rape is a huge emotional trama and it was overlooked in the story. Also I felt we skipped over things that I would have liked to have read and we focused on things that I didn't see improtant to the story. But then again I didn't write the story so I don't know. The plot was okay if you can get past everything else which I found very difficult.
Stupid-Shiny-Volvo-Owner More than 1 year ago
DO NOT READ! THIS IS A DISSAPOINTMENT!!!!!!!!!Sorry, but I did not like this book at all.