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The Impossibility of Us


How brave can you be when your relationship is questioned by everyone you love?

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Swoon Index

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  • Tears

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  • Laughs

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Full Description

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?


He touches the tail of my braid where it’s fallen over my shoulder, rubbing the strands of my hair between his fingers. He must be preoccupied by his thoughts because when he catches himself, he snatches his hand away, glaring at it like it’s got a mind of its own. His expression pulls taut and he moves to shove his fists into his sweatshirt pockets—his I’m uncomfortable tell—but he’s not wearing his sweatshirt anymore and, oh, if I could just take his hand and tangle it with mine, all the tension and strain and yearning of this moment would disappear.

Or, not. Maybe it’d be worse, like on the way home from Sacramento, when he held my hand for hours, literally. Every second I spent with my palm enveloped in his was incredible, but I was left feeling… not content. I dropped him off wanting more, more, more.

Kind of like right now.

I slip my hands into the pockets of the borrowed sweatshirt, mostly to keep from reaching for him. As his face relaxes, like there’s relief in watching me perform his action, my fingers close over a firm rectangle—his notebook.

I trace its cardboard cover within the depths of the pocket, its feathered-paper edges, its coiled spine. I pull it out and let it rest on my palm, but I don’t open it. It’s too personal. His lockbox of secrets and wishes and dreams.

He regards it warily, as if it’s sprouted sharp teeth and a pointed-dagger tail.

I let my gaze travel from where it sits on my palm, to his face. “Do you write in Pashto?”

“English, since I’ve been in America.”

“What would you say if I asked to read something?”

One corner of his mouth quirks up, fashioning an adorably askew smile. “I would say, ‘You are a very curious person.’”

This, for some reason, makes me laugh. “I like when you joke.”

“I like when you make me feel light enough for jokes.”

I hold his gaze and tell him what he must already know: “I like you.”


"This book tackles several heavy subjects as the author explores religious and ethnic intolerance, bigotry, fear, and lack of fairness. ... Readers will find the story meaty, satisfying, and enlightening. This surprising and worthwhile romance is a solid choice to add to any teen collection." —VOYA

"Spectacular ... Your heart will break reading this book, but it will also soar. You’ll question everything you’ve imagined about difficult relationships, look at your own self in a new light, but you’ll also fall in love." —Moriah's Musings

"The Impossibility of Us is a wonderful read and it deserves more readers for sure. A perfect read for summer, this will make your heart happy and sad at the same time. ... This story certainly proves that in the end love conquers all." —Flipping Through the Pages

"A realistic portrayal of an intercultural relationship and all the difficulties that come with it." —School Library Journal

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