The Beauty of Impossible Things by Rachel Donohue – Book review

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book like this. The Beauty of Impossible Things is truly the perfect title for this melancholic yet alluring book that creates a heady atmosphere from the first few pages; I found myself entranced.

Written by Irish author Rachel Donohue, it’s about all those people who have lost dreams or people they love and are just finding a way to try and get through life.

Opening sentence: I turned fifteen that summer which I never believed to be significant, though afterwards people claimed quite vehemently that it was.

Natasha’s Story

The Beauty of Impossible Things is very much about our narrator Natasha’s personal journey rather than what happens in the plot per se and it really is thoughtful and beautiful, although tinged with sadness.

Told to us in the first person by Natasha, she is recounting the summer she turned 15 to her therapist, years later. So we get to hear what happened, as well as her musings on why things went the way they did and her regrets too.

So, what did happen that summer?

On the cusp of adulthood, Natasha is finding her own voice and trying to find her authentic self. This involves her exploring her complex relationship with her mother, in fact, The Beauty of Impossible Things really does a brilliant job of shining a light on the fragility of all kinds of relationships. Including Natasha’s changing one with her best friend, Marcus and her more maternal one with her friend Lewis.

We were just eccentric and alone, with little money and ever subject to the scrutiny of those who belonged more easily.

Natasha and her mother live in a big house (inherited, they have little money now so take in lodgers to make ends meet) in a charming seaside town. Mr Bowen is their new lodger and takes a shine to Natasha’s mother.

While this is happening, mysterious blue lights appear in the sky and send the town into a spin – What are they? What do they mean? I actually found my mind pinging to random X-Files memories when reading – both in the ‘there’s something out there’ and romantic tension between lead character ways.

‘How do you explain love if you only believe in things you can see?’ I called after him.

Do you believe?

The other element of the story is that Natasha has foresight on what will happen in her life and to those around her through premonitions in her dreams. This is is actually the second book I’ve read recently by an Irish author that looks at the idea of predicting the future in dreams (the other was Snowflake).

A dream or a nightmare depending on your perspective.

The Beauty of Impossible Things taps into the need for acceptance and inability to communicate that a lot of people can probably relate to and really struck a chord with me. Stunningly written, I devoured it on a sunny afternoon in the garden, which wonderfully evoked the novel’s sunshine beach setting and definitely helped me dive further into the world of the narrative.

I was really captivated by this evocative read. Suspend your disbelief a little and go with it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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