by Sean Williams
Allen & Unwin 2019
And the word for today is: entirely.
it is not every day a complete stranger just hands you a book. It’s not every day that the book they hand you has a copy of a letter from the author inside. This is what happened to me at the CBCA National Conference 2019. I will add that the lovely person handing out books also handed them to other people, and that she wasn’t the only one handing out books. This particular book, however, intrigued me because it was by an author who usually writes very different kinds of books. For one, this one was set entirely the real world, and that is entirely unusual for Sean Williams.
Impossible Music is the story of a boy whose life is turned entirely upside down when he suddenly becomes entirely deaf overnight. A mini stroke has left him in a world of silence, which would be devastating for anyone, but for Simon it is a double blow as his whole life revolves around music.
It is also the story of his relationship with a girl, G, whom he meets through Deaf classes, and who has developed severe tinnitus following an accident.
Neither are travelling an easy path.
Impossible Music is, according to the letter that came with the book, aimed at passionate readers who are looking for a story that matters to them. Williams tells us that the story came out of a period of painful confusion in his own life, but the message is clear. There is a way forward. He describes the book as a love-song to music and finding your best self.
I found the characters and their story compelling. Definitely a YA, with some stronger themes, although not overly explicit, it is a story that any young person (maybe 15 to 16ish and above) can identify with as they find their way in what is a very confusing world. It is, however, not entirely dark. Williams’ story is infused with a humour that lightens the message and brings a sense of hopefulness to a difficult situation. It is, after all, about finding your best self, and I think Simon does that, or, at least, the path to his best self, after finding his worst self and nearly losing something that is possibly even more important to him than music.
There is a play list. Of course. This is a book with music running through it as a major thread.
Oh, and you might pick up some AUSLAN (Australian Sign Language) as you read.
An entirely good read.