BookBrowse Reviews The Easy Part of Impossible by Sarah Tomp

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Easy Part of Impossible

by Sarah Tomp

The Easy Part of Impossible by Sarah Tomp X
The Easy Part of Impossible by Sarah Tomp
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Apr 2020, 352 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


In this meaningful YA novel, Sarah Tomp juxtaposes the thrill of young love with the pain of facing abuse, shining a spotlight on the sporting world's greatest taboo.

Teenager Ria Williams is a skilled diver. She is on track to compete at the Olympic level, but injury forces her to abandon this dream and walk away from all she's known. With time on her hands to reevaluate what she wants, she finds herself increasingly drawn to Cotton, an old friend with autism who has a passion for cartography and cave exploration. As their friendship blossoms into something more, Ria is pushed to reflect on the dynamic she shared with her former diving coach, Benny — to finally see him for the abuser he was. When an offer comes along that could reignite her diving career — at the cost of having Benny back in her life — she struggles to separate the thing she loves most from the trauma she has endured.

Rather than exposing the reader to repeated examples of Ria's physical and mental suffering, the abuse looms on the periphery of the narrative for much of the novel, and this is effective on a number of levels. First, it reflects the sense of repression and denial experienced by many victims. Sarah Tomp shows the subconscious ways Ria has attempted to rationalize and excuse Benny's behavior as a means of self-protection. Secondly, the reader is given enough context and information to understand what has been happening long before Ria is ready to admit it even to herself. This creates sympathy for the protagonist, while also establishing a sense of inevitable climax — at some point she will surely be forced to face up to the truth. Finally, it's indicative of Tomp's sensitive decision to focus predominantly on the hidden mental ramifications of abuse, rather than the more easily sensationalized physical details.

Though the book lacks insight into Benny's mindset, which could have offered a fascinating alternative take on the relationship between victim and abuser, the supporting characters are drawn well enough to widen the novel's thematic scope in other ways. Cotton's autism is handled with due care, while a subplot concerning his missing sister serves as an effective mirror for Ria's arc about the need for closure. Meanwhile, Ria's friendship with a fellow diver provides a look at the unique brand of rivalry that can exist between teenage girls, and the prevailing notion of sisterhood that can ultimately help them overcome it.

In addition to the emotional investment in the characters, the short chapters and readable prose make this a book that is easy to fly through. However, it's not uncommon for novels aimed at young adults to suffer from moments of awkward dialogue — the author becoming briefly visible through their attempts to adopt a narrative voice that feels authentically youthful. The Easy Part of Impossible is no exception, particularly throughout Ria and Cotton's romantic subplot, with several scenes indulging in genre tropes that feel overly familiar.

Another consistent thread that is highly successful, however, is the book's look at the benefit of sports on our physical and mental well-being. Ria suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Diving provides an ideal outlet for her excess energy, while also bringing much needed focus and structure to her days. When injury temporarily prevents her from diving, running and caving prove vital lifelines. Girls and people with mental or behavioral health conditions have historically been excluded from sports, and there is a notable lack of media that actively encourages their participation. It's admirable that this novel is able to highlight the dark side of the sporting world without dismissing its many positive qualities. Indeed, if participating in organized sports is what puts Ria at risk in the first place, the opportunities and empowerment that diving offers may prove to be her salvation.

Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin

This review is from the The Easy Part of Impossible. It first ran in the May 20, 2020 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Klara and the Sun
    Klara and the Sun
    by Kazuo Ishiguro
    Klara and the Sun by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro drops the reader into a fictional ...
  • Book Jacket: The Lost Apothecary
    The Lost Apothecary
    by Sarah Penner
    Sarah Penner's debut novel The Lost Apothecary was rated 4 or 5 stars by 22 of our 23 First ...
  • Book Jacket: The Spymaster of Baghdad
    The Spymaster of Baghdad
    by Margaret Coker
    For the last 17 years, the country of Iraq has known almost constant violence and political upheaval...
  • Book Jacket: Hades, Argentina
    Hades, Argentina
    by Daniel Loedel
    Daniel Loedel's debut novel, Hades, Argentina, opens in 1986 when we meet Tomás Orillo, a young...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Smalltime
    by Russell Shorto

    Family secrets emerge as a best-selling author dives into the history of the mob in small-town America.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Lost Apothecary
    by Sarah Penner

    A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Narrowboat Summer
by Anne Youngson
From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances.
Win This Book!
Win Band of Sisters

Band of Sisters
by Lauren Willig

"A crackling portrayal of everyday American heroines…A triumph."
— Fiona Davis

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

W T's Life T's H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.