October 2008

Solving the riddle of a song

By Nancy Werlin
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Most kids know the traditional folk song "Scarborough Fair" (if they know it at all) from their parents’ and grandparents’ dusty old Simon & Garfunkel albums. For 17-year-old Lucy Scarborough, however, the haunting ballad takes on life-or-death significance when she learns that the song’s riddle-like lyrics might hold the key to breaking the curse that has entrapped generations of Scarborough women.

Raised by her adoring foster parents, Lucy has had a nurturing upbringing. Athletic, smart, funny, loving Lucy seems on track to have the kind of successful life that was never an option for her birth mother, Miranda, who had Lucy when she was 18 and went mad shortly thereafter. Now Miranda is a shadowy, often troubling figure at the margins of Lucy’s comfortable life. But Miranda’s story takes on new significance when Lucy herself becomes pregnant the night of her junior prom. Like her mother, Lucy will give birth at age 18. But is she, as the old song seems to suggest, doomed to a life of madness and alienation once she’s had her infant daughter? Reading Miranda’s old diaries, Lucy decides it’s time to take action against the powerful forces determined to take over her life. With equally powerful allies—including her foster parents and boy-next-door Zach—Lucy might be the Scarborough clan’s last, best, hope to break the curse that has enslaved them for so long.

With its romantic plot and folkloric roots, Impossible might seem at first glance to be a departure for author Nancy Werlin, best known for suspense novels such as The Killer’s Cousin and Double Helix. But, in addition to showcasing her adeptness at developing characters, Impossible remains, in the end, just as suspenseful as any of Werlin’s more traditional mystery novels. Romantic tension, a battle between good and evil, and a race against time—all set within a realistic contemporary setting—result in an intriguing medley of genres and a story that will remain in readers’ minds much like a beautiful, haunting melody.

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By Nancy Werlin
ISBN 9780803730021

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