I can never get enough of Lydia Kang. Is there a book that Kang writes that isn’t phenomenal? So yes, I loved The Impossible Girl.
Manhattan, 1850. Born out of wedlock to a wealthy socialite and a nameless immigrant, Cora Lee can mingle with the rich just as easily as she can slip unnoticed into the slums and graveyards of the city. As the only female resurrectionist in New York, she’s carved out a niche procuring bodies afflicted with the strangest of anomalies. Anatomists will pay exorbitant sums for such specimens—dissecting and displaying them for the eager public.
Cora’s specialty is not only profitable, it’s a means to keep a finger on the pulse of those searching for her. She’s the girl born with two hearts—a legend among grave robbers and anatomists—sought after as an endangered prize.
Now, as a series of murders unfolds closer and closer to Cora, she can no longer trust those she holds dear, including the young medical student she’s fallen for. Because someone has no intention of waiting for Cora to die a natural death.
For The Impossible Girl is a tie about what I love most: the character of Cora, the historical fiction element (combined with the science), or the incredibly twisty and complex plot. So I loved each of them in their own special way. Cora was incredibly smart and she doesn’t want to be confined by what she ‘should’ do. Kang’s medical knowledge comes in handy to create scientific ailments and combined with the plot it creates a story that you can’t help but love.
So Cora is amazing and I’d totally have a crush on her. I’m sure she’d see through me in an instant and eat me for dinner with a fine napkin, but I’d come back for more. Cora feels confined by what she ought to do versus what she enjoys doing. She enjoys the financial benefit of her work, but also the freedom that her double life as Jacob affords her.
Not only is she strong, intelligent, and incredibly adaptable, but she is also mixed race. It’s brought up all the time about her mixed parentage with, perhaps, a Chinese sailor. At one point she brings up the fact that she can pass just ‘well enough’ and how relative and dangerous the difference between well enough and not well enough is.
Kang’s writing is fantastic. It is lyrical, well paced, and has texts within the book from the perspective of some of the corpses. It sounds macabre, but it’s actually phenomenal. Or both. But that’s how I like it.
At the same time, there are layers of mystery heaped on and the intrigue just keeps building. The whole book is building up to this frenzy of a conclusion that will have you reeling on the floor. That’s how good the mystery and twists are. I could not see them coming at all. And, I’m sure, neither will you.
(I am constantly impressed with Kang’s books, but also Kang as a human).
The Impossible Girl is an amazing historical fiction based in science and strong women. There are a whole host of women who act in their own interests. Who can’t get enough, find new relationships, and try to make their way in the world in different ways. It has everything to make me love it – and more!