Fourteen year old nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, moving house, new school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on Estelle, the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he's narrowed it down to just six impossible things...
Dan Cereill (pronounced ‘surreal’, not ‘cereal’) has undergone a rude awakening. At the same time that his mother inherited a heritage-listed house from her dead great-aunt Adelaide, she discovered that her husband was both gay and bankrupt and they would have to move into said heritage-listed abode because the bank was repossessing everything else.
And so, Dan finds himself living in a piss-smelling, run-down relic, not talking to his ‘out’ dad, about to start on the bottom rung at a new high school.
The only thing getting him through this teenage mid-life crisis is the girl next door, Estelle, a hidden doorway leading into her attic, and a list of six impossible things;
1. Kiss Estelle. I know. I haven’t met her yet. Technically. But it gets top spot regardless.
2. Get a job. We’re in a complete mess financially. It’s down to me to tide us over money-wise if my mother’s new business crashes.
3. Cheer my mother up. Better chance of business not crashing if she’s half okay.
4. It’s not like I expect to be cool or popular at the new school, but I’m going to try not to be a complete nerd/loser.
5. Should talk to my father when he calls. But how, when the only thing I want to ask is something I can’t bear to hear the answer to: How could you leave us like this?
6. The existential one. Figure out how to be good. I don’t want to end up the sort of person who up and leaves his family out of the blue.
‘Six Impossible Things’ is a stand-alone YA novel from Australian author, Fiona Wood.
I loved this book for its simplicity. On the surface there’s a lot of things happening in Dan’s life – his gay dad, bankrupt family, new school and first real crush. The book could have buckled under the weight of so many issues – but Wood handles them with a deft hand and earnest male perspective.
Dan is our narrator, and it’s lovely to get a male perspective in Aussie YA, for a change. He’s starting year nine when all his familial issues implode – he’s a sensitive soul who has spent the holidays crying under his doona and avoiding his dad’s phone calls. Perhaps to distract himself from the things he can’t change – no money, divorced parents, gay dad – he becomes a teensy bit consumed with his crush on the girl next door, Estelle.
This was a great and realistic way For Wood to explore such catastrophic issues. His mum’s coping mechanisms creep into the story, as does his avoidance of his dad’s olive branches and monetary decline. But for Dan, Estelle is centre stage in his new life.
I loved Dan. He’s a smart and sensitive young man, with a cracking wit that especially shines through when he observes the social structure of his new public school. Like his nick-naming of the transposable bracket girls (omigod).
‘Six Impossible Things’ was a wonderful Australian young adult novel exploring cutting-edge issues through a voice of lovable innocence.