The Impossibility of Us
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: July 31st 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village.
When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.
But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan.
Beautifully written, utterly compelling, and ultimately hopeful, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US asks—how brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?
I lower my camera, letting it hang from the woven strap around my neck. Absently, I toss Bambi’s tennis ball, not so far this time, because I’m watching a tall figure move down the beach. He’s a ways south, but I can tell he’s somewhere near my age—a small miracle in this town.
He’s wearing dark track pants and a hooded sweatshirt, and his hair’s black, standing out in sharp contrast to the pale sand.
He strides into the surf, fully clothed.
The air is cool and crisp, and the ocean is frigid. He’s up to his knees when a white-capped wave breaks hard against his middle, driving him back a few steps. I expect him to wade out, back to the beach, but he presses forward, undeterred, immersing his lower half completely. He uses his hands against the surging breakers like he thinks he can control them, like he’s unaware of the water’s absolute power.
I’m no fearmonger—that’s more in keeping with my mom’s personality—but the Pacific’s scary along this strip of the coast. I’ve seen surfers in dry suits, but unless you’ve got a board, this isn’t a swimming beach. Thanks to the California Current, the water’s bitter cold and the undertows are unreal. There are sharks, too. Big ones, which normally feed on harbor seals and sea lions, but are probably ravenous for breakfast at the moment and would likely settle for a nice big bite of boy.
“Hey!” I call as he moves farther into the swells. Stupid, because there’s no way he can hear me over the wind and the waves.
What he’s doing . . . It’s so unsafe.
Without a second thought, I take off in his direction, clutching my camera so it doesn’t knock against my chest. Bambi chases me, nipping at my heels.
He’s up to his shoulders when I reach the dragging footsteps he left in the sand. I watch him jump as waves distend, then advance beyond him in a race for the beach. His head bobs the way Bambi’s ball does after landing in the surf. If he goes any deeper, he could be sucked out to sea.
“Hey!” I scream again, waving my arms.
He doesn’t hear me, or doesn’t want to, because he pushes off and paddles farther out.
He’s an adrenaline-seeking dumbass, or he’s suicidal. I keep my eyes on his dark hair and peel off my sweatshirt, trying not to strangle myself with my camera’s strap in the process. I toss it into the sand and take half a second to wrap my Nikon in its fabric, praying my beloved camera doesn’t get stolen or lost to an aggressive wave.
Then I bolt into the ocean.
I lose my breath immediately.
The water is millions of sharp pins sinking into my flesh. The breakers are powerful, but I battle them, keeping my eyes trained on the boy. Distantly, I hear Bambi’s distressed barking. I spare a quick glance over my shoulder as I slog through the deepening water; she’s still on the shore, hopping around. Silly dog will follow her ball into the water, but not me.
Again, I shout at the boy.
Again, no response.
Death wish, I think. And then: Me, too.
By the time I reach him, a good thirty yards offshore, I’m numb.
My teeth are chattering and I’m not calling out anymore because my tongue’s immovable. Treading to keep my head above water, I make a grab for his shoulder. He wrenches his head around and I realize, too late, that I’ve startled him. He jerks out of my grip.
“I’m trying to help you!” My voice is scratchy and my throat feels raked over.
He shakes his head. No.
“You can’t be out here—it’s dangerous!”
As if to illustrate my point, a rogue wave crashes over our heads.
Katy Upperman is a graduate of Washington State University, a former elementary school teacher, and an insatiable reader. When not writing for young adults, Katy can be found whipping up batches of chocolate chip cookies or exploring the country with her husband and daughter. KISSING MAX HOLDEN is her debut novel; her sophomore novel, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US, will be available summer, 2018.
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