Monday, December 12, 2011

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood

First published in Australia by Pan Macmillan, 2010

This was one of those 'awesome Aussie YA' books that have been on my radar for a while - aka with the likes of Graffiti Moon and Good Oil and Raw Blue - the books that have been doing well overseas and racking up all the awards and nominations.

It's cute and cool, most definitely.  Funny and awkward in the most endearing of ways.  It never quite felt 'real' to me - though, and by this I mean every problem seems to have a happy, convenient resolution,  and the emotional heart of it doesn't quite ring true.  It's very entertaining and I can't fault the writing; it's one of those books where I can't actually find anything wrong, but it just didn't quite suit my tastes. I love quirky and awkward and silly-funny, but I like there to be a little grit as well. I found Six Impossible Things to be as light and fluffy and fun as they get.

Who doesn't love Dan? He is a real cutie,  and makes 'being awkward' cool. His social ineptitude is familiar and endearing, and some of the situations he finds himself in (and inwardly reacts to) are hilarious. I particularly liked the walking across the road to avoid the awkwardness of walking so near to his crush Estelle, only having to cross back over so he can get home (she lives next door). I've done it, and numerous other predicaments he finds himself in. I really love it when an author can expose all those awkward moments we all have in such a genuine and warm-hearted way, and this book is full of them. And of course the teenage years are such rich material for this.

I didn't mind the 'crush' Estelle, but I wasn't really feeling their relationship. The cuteness of it came from Dan and his thoughts more than any meaningful interaction they had. I like relationships to be angsty in YA - I guess you can say this one kind of is, but it's all so funny  and Dan such a mooning clown that for me it sat on the 'cute' level and nothing more. Also it was all just a little too perfect - but once again, that's just a personal choice.

Cute supporting characters - the Mum annoyed me a bit. Some nice stuff with the gay Dad, if a little too forced. And Howard is as great a 'pet' character as you can get - in fact I'd almost say he was my favourite. I do love a wise, perceptive poodle.

Impossible not to like this book ... but for me, impossible to fully love it. There is also a nice, subtly done message about not wallowing in pity and just cutting the crap and taking responsibility for your own feelings and actions. Fluffy and fun. 

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