I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Also by this author: Wildlife
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on August 11th 2015
Genres: Adolescence, Alternative Family, Australia & Oceania, Family, People & Places, Social Issues, Young Adult
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Fourteen-year-old Dan Cereill's life is turned upside-down when his father announces he is gay and leaves Dan and his mother with nothing, forcing them to move to an aunt's house, Dan to enroll in public school, and his mother to try to start a business, but the top thing on Dan's list is kissing Estelle, the girl next door.
Australia has a reputation for publishing and producing some of the best young adult books around – from Melina Marchetta to Cath Crowley to Markus Zusak, there’s a whole lot of talent in the land down under. Joining the ranks is Fiona Wood. Six Impossible Things is the first book by Fiona Wood that I’ve read, but certainly will not be the last. It is a book that absolutely has charm in spades and a main character who is so awkward and earnest that you just cannot help but root for him.
Dan is between a rock and a hard place. His family has gone from being rich and moneyed to having absolutely everything liquidated because the family business has gone under. Also, Dan’s father has come out as being gay, unexpectedly. So, Dan and his mother move into this house across town that great Aunt Adelaide has left them. Unfortunately for Dan, that’s all she’s left and when Dan’s mother dies, the house goes to a historic trust. It sucks because all of the things inside the house would solve their financial woes. Meanwhile, Dan’s mother is trying to start a wedding cake business and is failing miserably. To compound Dan’s agony, he is in love with the girl next door, Estelle, but cannot seem to get a word out around her.
I think that Dan Cereill is all of us. Six Impossible Things nails down exactly what it is like to be fourteen and awkward and gawky, making me feel as though I was in high school again. Dan endures taunts from his fellow classmates who pronounce his name cereal instead of surreal like how it is supposed to be pronounced. They also use homophobic slurs against him and prank his mother’s business. Dan, though, is irrepressible in a way. I mean, he has this gumption. Even though his life is not perfect, even though he is not popular, he does not give up. Instead, he goes out and tries to get a paying job, with hilarious results. He tries to make friends – in fact he sets up his only two friends. He begins to lift weights and go running. And so, he puts the effort in – in the hopes of winning the girl. I just rooted for him in a whole the Smiths ‘Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’ kind of way.
So often, I read young adult contemporary books told from the point of view of the girl and so getting in Dan’s head was a breath of fresh air. He’s also younger than the typical main characters I read about, at fourteen. He’s just barely out of middle school. Yet, he seems a bit more mature than the average fourteen year old. In fact, all of the youthful characters of this book seem kind of mature for their ages. It was interesting to see Dan fall hard for Estelle, first before he knows her, and then after, as he gets to know her better. I loved seeing the things he got roped into, all because of his feelings for her.
I would also be a bit remiss if I did not mention that one of the things Dan and his mother inherit from Adelaide is Howard the dog. Howard plays a pivotal role in this book and adds a bit of a light touch as he reminds the reader that dogs have this uncanny way of just getting humans.
Fiona Wood’s Six Impossible Things is a quick, fun read that would work for readers who enjoy books about pride coming before a fall, earnest characters and nerds inheriting the earth.