by Katy Upperman
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?
~AUTHOR INTERVIEW with Katy Upperman~
1. What gave you the inspiration for the storyline?
My husband gave me the inspiration for The Impossibility of Us… Back in 2014, I told him I wanted to start working on a new project for National Novel Writing Month. He encouraged me to write about a girl from the U.S. and a boy from Afghanistan – they meet, fall for each other, and end up having to deal with a lot of frustrating prejudices regarding their differences in culture and religion. I took his suggestion and ran with it – I was excited about this modern spin on the “forbidden romance” trope, as well as the opportunity to dive into some really interesting research. I’m so glad he planted that seed of an idea!
2. Are there any hidden themes in the book that you hope readers will discover?
All of my books share a common theme: love conquers all. Additionally, I like to explore friendship, loss, guilt, identity, acceptance, and family. Beyond that, I think readers tend to discover themes relevant to who they are and where they are in life—I know I do! I think it’s really cool to hear from different readers who identify with completely different themes in my stories.
3. Are any of the characters based on real people you know?
I try to keep my characters predominately fictional, but Elise’s little niece, Janie, is based on my now-eleven-year-old daughter back when she was three: precocious, curious, and sweet. I gave Elise’s sister-in-law, Audrey, some of my own backstory and personality traits. As a military wife and mom who married relatively young, it wasn’t terribly difficult to see things through her lens; her relationship with Elise happens to be one of my favorites in the story. But mostly, my book people are purely imagined.
4. Who has influenced you most as a writer?
My mom fostered my appreciation of reading, and growing up, my dad rarely said no when I asked for a new book at the bookstore (RIP, Waldenbooks), so it was my parents who inspired my love of literature, which is what ultimately led me to writing.
I’ve been reading Judy Blume’s novels since I was eight, so she’s definitely the writer who has most influenced what I write, and how I write it. I admire the way she takes seemingly unremarkable people in ordinary situations and creates big, emotionally resonating stories with them. Just as Long as We’re Together is my favorite book of hers; it’s a story about friendship and family and navigating middle school—nothing particularly revolutionary—but it’s always felt huge and so relatable, like it was written just for me. I think about that book a lot when I’m working on my own. I hope readers can find a piece of themselves in my stories like I do when I read Judy’s novels.
5. If you could have any three literary characters over to your place for game night, who would you invite, what would you play, what would you serve, and why?
Okay, I really had to think about this one! My perfect literary game night would include Laila from A Thousand Splendid Suns, Hermione from The Harry Potter series, and Kestrel from The Winner’s Trilogy because they’re all smart, strong, courageous women who overcome a whole lot of adversity in unique ways. I’d serve cookies and cupcakes because I love to bake, and hope that Hermione would bring some magical treats from Honeydukes. I like strategy games like The Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride, though considering my guests (*ahem* Kestrel), I have a feeling I’d get stomped at my own game night!
6. Do you feel that you can ever have too many books?
Hahaha—NO. I have quite a collection. Though, I do try to only hang on to books I truly love. I purge and donate every now and then, and it makes me really happy to pass stories along to new readers. But if I have an addiction, it’s definitely books.
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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