Title: The Easy Part of Impossible
Author: Sarah Tomp
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 352
Ria’s life revolves around swimming- her ADHD and learning disabilities have made it hard to excel academically, and she hopes her athletic prowess will offer her a bright future and a scholarship at a good school. The only person in Ria’s life who’s harder on her than she is on herself is her coach, Benny. Benny is harsh and manipulative and sometimes he even physically abuses Ria.
When she has a breakdown at a swim meet and bails out at the last minute, Benny kicks her off the team and shames her for her ‘weakness.’ Ria has a complicated relationship with Benny and blames herself for his abuse, but she starts considering new possibilities in her life (a life defined by her swimming abilities and little else) when she reconnects with a childhood friend, Cotton.
Cotton has Asperger’s Syndrome and has a slightly stiff, straightforward way of communicating. He’s obsessed with spelunking and drawing maps of the caves he explores, and he’s also haunted by his own personal trauma. This book had a little too much romance for me, but I still enjoyed Cotton and Ria’s characters (even though Cotton was a little too ‘textbook Asperger’s’ at times.)
Ria was a particularly interesting protagonist and I liked how she was right on the social border of ‘normal’ and ‘different’ (she was in special ed as a child, but she has typical high school friends and a boyfriend who is sometimes embarrassed by her quirks.)
Cotton is also ‘different’ but he’s a really good-hearted person and he turns out to be exactly what Ria needs in her life at that time. The ending was a little too rushed and Ria’s climactic ‘breaking point’ at the swimming pool lacked subtlety, but the character-driven coming of age drama and crisp, empathetic prose made this a winner in my book.