This Impossible Light is an absolute gem. From its mathematical references to its plot to its main character, everything is magical.
When Ivy’s parents break the news about their divorce to her, Ivy’s world starts spinning out of control. Combine that with an older brother who moves out, a best friend who won’t talk to her, and her body changing, Ivy is reeling, fighting for what control she has over her life. Always the Smart Girl, Ivy finds solace in controlling her food. Unable to control her mother’s depression, or her lack of friends, Ivy focuses only on fulfilling her Smart Girl dreams, skipping meals, and counting calories. But this can only go on for so long, until she cannot concentrate because of the hunger, and until she has an accident that uncovers all her secrets.
While I went into this, expecting prose, what I got was even better: poems that linked together to form the grand arc of Ivy’s life. The poems are beautiful and tender, exposing the vulnerabilities of Ivy’s mind. The plot is moving and incredibly relatable. Ivy’s character strikes a chord within me, reminding me of moments from my past. Myer’s writing, the same one that astounded me from “Shrinking Women”, has the same biting honesty, the same hard hitting resonance, but is framed by a younger perspective of fragility.
There are so many things I love: the intersections of the mathematical definitions and the story, the relationship between Ivy and her mother, and the simple, but elegant writing. You won’t get lost in flowery imagery, instead wowed by the similarity you find with Ivy and her struggles. The relationship between Ivy and her mother is one of my favorite in all the books I’ve read, not only because of its effect on the plot, but because of their dynamic. It isn’t one of those easy going, humorous relationships I’ve read about recently, but it is one that documents the hard, unanswered questions, the mutual worrying, and the way that we inherit the problems that surround us.
This collection of poems deals with issues of fractured families, changing bodies, eating disorders, and moving on. At one point or another you’ll feel the same longing Ivy has for completeness, simplicity, and happier times. It as the juxtaposition of these universal feelings of nostalgia, and Ivy’s situation that make This Impossible Light both inspirational and illuminating. It’s about finding the lost voice inside of us, confronting the seemingly impossible darkness to find the light within and around.
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.
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