We All Want Impossible Things is a celebration of female friendship and life, good bits, bad bits and painful bits included.
We All Want Impossible Things
by Catherine Newman
Who knows you better than your best friend? Who knows your secrets, your fears, your desires, your strange imperfect self?
Edi and Ash have been best friends for over forty years. Since childhood they have seen each other through life’s milestones: stealing vodka from their parents, the Madonna phase, REM concerts, unexpected wakes, marriages, infertility, children. As Ash notes, ‘Edi’s memory is like the back-up hard drive for mine.’
So when Edi is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ash’s world reshapes around the rhythms of Edi’s care, from chipped ice and watermelon cubes to music therapy; from snack smuggling to impromptu excursions into the frozen winter night. Because life is about squeezing the joy out of every moment, about building a powerhouse of memories, about learning when to hold on, and when to let go.
We All Want Impossible Things Review
The other night I couldn’t sleep, so I picked up We All Want Impossible Things from my bedside table. I was about 50 pages in. All of a sudden, it was past midnight, and I’d finished the book whilst crying-laughing with a snotty nose and streaming eyes.
It was that good.
We All Want Impossible Things centres on Edi and Ash, lifelong best friends who have been through everything together. So when Edi is diagnosed with terminal cancer, this is the final thing that they will face together. As Edi spends her final weeks in a hospice, Ash, who has recently separated from her husband Honey (gah! What a name!) is sleeping around and trying to find, well, something that she can’t put her finger on.
This book could be heavy or hard going given its subject matter and yes, I cried, but it’s handled with grace, humour and a lightness that makes it super readable. I loved the writing style, with its play on words and in-jokes, it felt so personable and real, like I was part of the friendship group. I also loved Ash’s relationship with her family, in particular her teenage daughter Belle, and the way that they could lean on one another in their ways.
Of course, more than anything, I loved the depiction of long-lasting female friendship. I’m lucky to have friends that I’ve had since school, so long-term friendship is something I love to see written about. I loved the flashbacks and memories, the way that they make up who we are and weave into our every day. Newman does it in a way that’s beautiful and authentic, heartbreakingly so given the circumstances.
There was just one tiny thing that jarred me (and I’ve read a couple of other reviews saying the same) and that’s that it strikes me as odd that Jude, Edi’s husband, is so willing to be away from his wife in her final weeks. I understand that it works story-wise (and heck, I’ve never been in the position so who am I to say) but it didn’t ring quite true. Having said that, I could let it go because I loved the friendship and prose so much.
It’s January, so this might be forward, but I think that this could be one of my books of the year.
Yep, I said it.