Saturday, September 07, 2019

All the Impossible Things

Lackey, Lindsay. All the Impossible Things
September 3rd 2019 by Roaring Brook Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Red has been in the foster care system for three years, after the death of her grandmother and the arrest of her mother for drug possession. She has been in several foster care placements, and has a caring case worker, Ms. Anders, who tries to help as much as she can. When her latest placement doesn't work out, she ends up being placed with the Grooves, an older couple who run a petting zoo with rescued animals. They are kind, helpful, and don't presume that Red wants to be with them any longer than necessary. Red tentatively settles in, and makes friends with a neighbor boy, Marvin, whose family is from Hawaii and who is very interested in film making. Red misses her grandmother, who helped her keep a journal of "impossible things" that they tried to figure out together, and her mother, who shares Red's supernatural abilities to stir up wind and storms with her emotions during heated interchanges. Eventually, Red is allowed visits with her mother, but the joy in this is tempered both by her mother's behavior and also by the fact that her foster mother, Celine, has some serious health concerns. After a incident with Celine's grandsons over Christmas (Red tries to use a rake to protect them from a large rat in the barn, and their mother thinks Red is attacking the boys), Red is moved to another placement, but this turns out to be temporary, and she is soon back with the Grooves. As her mother's custody hearing approaches, Red tries to make a video with Marvin pleading her mother's case with the court, but several incidents make Red doubt whether or not she really wants to be with her mother. How will Red make the best of this impossible situation?
Strengths: The depiction of foster care in this one was very interesting, since it showed Red's less than optimal placement before it showed the Grooves. It also dealt with how Red felt about her mother, and drew a heart rending portrait of a woman who just was not able to care for her daughter. With an increasing number of children in foster care, it's good to have a variety of depictions in middle grade novels to act as "windows and mirrors"; if children identify with the characters, they can know they are not alone, and if they have no experience with foster care, it can teach them to be sympathetic to classmates who might be in that situation. It also shows that even the most ideal foster care placement can run into difficulties, like health problems. Ruby's emotions are realistically portrayed, and I appreciated her grandmother's philosophy about impossible things. The inclusion of the rescue animals and Marvin helped give more hope to Red's story.
Weaknesses: Red and her mother's ability to raise windstorms is odd and never really explained. Every time an incident occurred, it ripped me right out of the realism of the rest of the story.
What I really think: I am debating this one. The details about foster care were so intriguing that I was willing to forget about the supernatural part of the story, but the cover makes Red look about six years old, and the magical quality of the cover doesn't make this appealing to students who want problem novels. I enjoyed this one and will probably purchase it, but it's not a book that made me want to buy it immediately.

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