Impossible (by Michelle Magorian)

Many years ago I read and enjoyed Michelle Magorian’s best-known novel ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’; so when I saw her latest young adult novel on the Bookbag review shelves, it was the work of a moment to request it.

'Impossible' features twelve-year-old Josie who would rather be a boy. She attends a stage school, which we quickly realise is not teaching her anything useful although somehow its children manage to get parts in stage shows.

Set in 1959, this is almost reminiscent of Noel Streatfeild at first: a talented and determined child trying to make her way in the world while adults make things difficult. There are rather a lot of people introduced in the first few chapters of the book and I found myself a little bewildered at times. However, it didn’t matter much as the writing is crisp and fast-paced, and Josie is a believable and likeable child.

I knew from the blurb on the back that there would be an exciting thread concerning mistaken identity, although this doesn't occur until about a third of the way through. There’s tension and excitement, both on stage and in the events off-stage, and Josie proves herself courageous and loyal.

Josie and her family are seamlessly woven into the stage history of the era. She takes part in workshops and a production that actually happened, directed by someone who is now considered the founder of modern theatre techniques. I was a little disappointed that there was no epilogue explaining which parts of the book were based on reality, but perhaps it doesn’t matter.

If I have a niggle with the book, it’s that it seems to be overtly educational in places. Still, with a main character of twelve, I assume that it's intended for the 10-12 age group, the kind of children who have not been daunted by the length of JK Rowling’s books, and who might appreciate knowing factual details about theatre and filming.

By the time I was a few chapters in, I could barely put it down. I thought it would take me weeks to finish, as there are nearly 600 pages, but I managed it in three days.

All in all, this is an amazing book. Very highly recommended. Available in Kindle form as well as paperback.

My longer review of 'Impossible' can be found at the Bookbag site.

Review copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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