REVIEW: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Fans of the Impossible Life 02

Title: Fans of the Impossible Life
Author: Kate Scelsa
Format: ARC, 356 pages
Publication: September 8th 2015 by Balzer + Bray/HarperTeen
Source: Gifted by the author (thank you so much Kate!)
Genre: Fiction—Coming of Age, Contemporary, Realistic
Other classifications: Depression and Mental Illness, LGBTQIA, Young Adult

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MIRA is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

JEREMY is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting him.

SEBBY, Mira’s gay best friend, seems to carry sunlight around him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.


I received a review copy from the author which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

As eloquent as it is heartfelt, Fans of the Impossible Life takes storytelling to a higher class and diversity higher still.

Let me be the first to say that this is a novel—if not the novel—champions of the We Need Diverse Books campaign should be talking about. Scelsa delivers a coming of age at once achingly moving and softly poetic told from the perspectives of her three MCs. Her play at different points of view is nothing short of adroit—Jeremy’s chapters are in first person, Sebby’s in second and Mira’s in third. And it totally works, both in function and aesthetic. It provides a window into the complexities of her characters, and boy are they complex.

“… you lay awake on that night’s floor thinking about what you could have said to them to make them understand. What it felt like to know that the two people who knew you best couldn’t ever really know what your life was like.”

The author also doesn’t shy away from the hard edges of her story. Fans of the Impossible Life covered many important issues without once feeling overwhelming nor romanticized. There’s drug abuse, identity crisis, depression, suicide, bullying, racism—you name it, it’s probably in here. And Scelsa approached these with insight and sensitivity. Just as much as she paid her secondary characters attention. I am particularly impressed by the fact that they have these stuff going on for them. Like, Talia is whatever, I’m incredibly furious at her for what she did in the end BUT she was the one who helped Jeremy through his catastrophic episode, who apologized to him for not speaking up. And there’s Julie, perfect Julie who doesn’t wanna deal with Mira’s drama BUT who shows up, not attending her lecture to be with her as soon as she comes home.

“I had been nothing before that moment and one day I would be nothing again. But there and then my life was real. With his lips, and his lovely mouth.”

Early this year, Malinda Lo wrote an essay on perceptions of diversity in book reviews—in fact it’s just one in a four-part series which you need to read if you care about diversity. In it, she cited a critique that blatantly pronounced ““perfectly ethnically and sexually diverse” cast as “scarcely plausible,”” a suggestion that “this diversity would not have existed naturally; it needed effort.” Okay. Not only do I call total BS on this problematic trade review, I have Fans of the Impossible Life to reinforce my claim. Scelsa’s debut has multiple POC characters and characters representing three (3!) different orientations from the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. But what’s really remarkable is the ease with which the author handled sexual and racial diversity. It doesn’t just look at individual experiences, it’s reflected in the family structures of her main players. One of the leads has two gay dads. Another has interracial parents. They get loads of crap for this and I’m thinking, that’s reality. It feels natural because this happens today, no matter how much we long for the contrary.

“At that point she was keeping the crying hidden. When it first started, she let people see it because she didn’t know what else to do. She thought if they could witness her in the middle of this thing, then they might be able to understand. But they couldn’t. It was exhausting for others to watch. For herself to experience. So she stopped showing them.”

I’m not you, but if I were, I’d be a fan of Fans of the Impossible Life too.

4.5 out of 5


Kate Scelsa

Kate Scelsa has performed in New York and around the world with experimental theater company Elevator Repair Service in their trilogy of works based on great American literature, including an eight-hour-long performance that uses the entire text of The Great Gatsby. Kate lives in Brooklyn with her wife and two black cats.

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Blogger’s note: I buddy-read this book with Wesaun @ Oreo and Books and it is SO GOOD we both finished it in a 24-hour time frame.

Is this on your TBR list? If not, have I convinced you to include it? (Because, really, you definitely should check this out.) Do you think there are such works with “too much issues” or “too diverse”? And what about you, what was the last awesome book you read that celebrates diversity? Or just any solid 5-star read. Let’s talk!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.


35 thoughts on “REVIEW: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

  1. This book sounds awesome! I’ll definitely be adding it to my TBR. I don’t think it’s possible for a book to be “too diverse”. The only times I have issues with that is when it seems like they’re including diverse topics just for the sake of being diverse. If tough or different topics are written about well, I love reading them. 🙂


    1. PRECISELY. I get easily annoyed by people who use diversity as a pedestal but can’t be bothered to do their homework. Like, if you yourself don’t want to know more about the minority your book is “supposedly” directing the spot light to, so to speak, what’s the point?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad we’re have similar opinions – that only makes me more excited to read this book because I’m sure it won’t be one of those irritating types of books since you seemed to love it so much 🙂


  2. Wonderful review!
    1. It was before we read it!
    2. You would’ve, this review was so well written.
    3. *insert my bitter laughter here* How is that possible when we still don’t have accurate representation of certain races, religion, and sexualities still? HOW?
    4. Fans of the Impossible Life! Hm. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
    Thanks for the mention *beams*
    Fan of FANS, I see what you did there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *Revelatory winks.* Thank you Wesaun! I’ll be keeping an eye out for your review! And YES, coz, like, even I don’t read enough diverse books. Sure, I read LGBTQIA+ titles, but that’s mostly on the L-G-B-Q. And what about characters with disabilities or the minorities in terms of religious beliefs? Clearly, we both can go on and on and on.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG, STAHP. YOU’RE ALWAYS CONVINCING ME TO READ BOOKS. My TBR is going to start to glare at you, Shelumiel. JUST WARNING YOU. 😉 😉 But seriously I need this. The diversity alone is enough to sell me (and gee, someone things diversity is “scarcely plausible”??? WHAT PLANET DO THEY LIVE ON?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’M JUST RETURNING THE FAVOR, YOU AWESOME CREATURE! And thank you! This means more than I can say! Especially coming from you. Hmm. I think that opinion comes from a place of utter privilege. Like, the position is so privileged it left everything else in rubbles.


  4. This is #5 of my most anticipated release for the rest of 2015! So envious that you got to read it beforehand! I love this post, although I haven’t read a single word. Haha! 🙂


      1. I swear I haven’t! The only thing I glanced upon was your 4.5 rating! That’s what I do when I see ARC reviews from other book bloggers. If I haven’t read the book yet, I only look at the ratings! It’s always a pleasure dropping by your blog, Shelumiel!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosh, can you please just stop being such an artist/photographer/cool-blogger? But seriously, I always love the photos, Shelumiel! And lovely review, I don’t read enough diverse books so I’m adding this to my TBR list. …that doesn’t mean I’ll read it soon though. I still haven’t read MHTN yet. D: Soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awe. Some. Re. View. This is wonderful, Shelumiel, as is your photography and passion for what sounds like a truly magnificent read. I hadn’t heard much about it before this, and what I had heard had been only mediocre, so I wasn’t really invested, but NOW. Well I think I’m gonna have to add this to my tbr because you painted a truly gorgeous picture of a book that ticks boxes I’m wanting filled, and I don’t want to say no to it. Also, Kate sounds amazingly awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh gosh. WOW. You are so very generous lady! Thank you thank you thank you! ❤ If you do end up reading this one, though, I hope you don't put too much pressure feeling like "you have to like it." But yeah, it's fantastic!


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