Review: Impossible Music by Sean Williams

What do you do when music is the biggest thing in your life, but a ministroke leaves you unable to hear? That is the challenge faced by Simon Rain, the eighteen-year-old protagonist of Impossible Music, a brilliant new novel by Adelaide author Sean Williams. The novel opens with Simon hurting and angry, and resisting all opportunities to adjust to his new circumstances. And then he meets G (or George, or George who likes coffee,) a smart, tough girl who is learning to cope with her own newfound hearing loss, and who challenges Simon on a number of occasions. But what ultimately leads Simon on a path toward self-acceptance is an idea. He wants to create a new form of music. Something that the Deaf community can experience, along with the hearing world.

The novel starts off on a dark note, but that is understandable, given the subject matter. Though Simon's circumstances are unusual (he's the thirteenth recorded case in the world of having this type of hearing loss,) the character is drawn realistically, and with empathy. (On that, G is a lot of fun to read about too.) I also very much appreciated the use and descriptions of Auslan in the novel, along with Simon's descriptions of the music that he creates. (Creativity is a huge theme in the book.) However, where the story really shines is through its originality. It subverts from the usual YA tropes to tell the story of an adolescent who struggles with and finds the strength to cope with his newfound circumstances in a way that is original and pleasingly free from excessive sentimentality. This one will probably appeal to readers who are at, or who are advancing toward, the older end of the YA spectrum. 

Highly recommended.

Thank you to Sean Williams for my copy of Impossible Music

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2019


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