MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Sarah Tomp Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Sarah Tomp
Photo: Roxyanne Young

Sarah Tomp

An interview with Sarah Tomp

In a letter to readers introducing her novel, The Easy Part of Impossible, Sarah Tomp shares a difficult time in her life.

Dear Reader,

When I was in high school, I had a confusing relationship with a teacher. He'd helped me learn something that was hard for me and then made me feel special for being a good listener. He was funny, encouraging, and popular with students and staff. But he had serious problems too. As an adult looking back, I can call our interactions clearly inappropriate, but even now I struggle to define the experience with a recognizable label.

This relationship changed me, mostly because I didn't tell anyone about the rides we took around town, the late night drunken phone calls, the secrets he shared, and the way he cried and raged. I protected him because I felt guilty for letting him think he could depend on me. I couldn't fix him even though I tried. I was ashamed when I unintentionally let his friend and fellow teacher know he'd crossed a line—but I was relieved, too, because that slip finally got me out of a situation I had no idea how to escape.

The Easy Part of Impossible is not that story, but there's a seed of that relationship here, mixed with my realization as a parent that coaches wield far more influence over their athletes than I'd ever expected. Here, my character Ria's school-related insecurities have left her vulnerable to her coach's abusive control. For a long time, he was her hero—the only person who told her she was extraordinary. So when he started to hurt her, she blamed herself. The unfortunate truth, however, is whether you're doing something "right" or "wrong," you can still be a victim.

My hope is that readers may recognize that we all can be more than one thing. We can be good teachers, coaches, or even parents, but be flawed human beings. We can be someone with learning obstacles but still able to know when something isn't quite right. By reading Ria's story, I hope to empower readers to trust their instincts. If someone—especially an adult—does something that feels wrong, please find someone to talk to. Thanks for reading.


Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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