I’m always hone in on books with disability rep because I feel it’s way way underdone in YA!
Impossible Music features a profoundly deaf teen. Simon is an ex-wannabe-rock-god who has a stroke and wakes up profoundly deaf (it’s a very rare brain damage) and the story is basically him trying to reconcile his musician identity with being deaf. It’s obviously very deeply about grief. He lost a huge part of himself and he’s struggling…and you really really feel the depth and aching of that loss with him.
But what I appreciate? While Simon is rejecting his disability (refusing to learn sign language; doesn’t want to be considered as deaf; etc etc) the story overall is about being empowered as a disabled person. I appreciate. 🤗
*:·ﾟ✧ a quick pause for confusion *:·ﾟ✧
I do admit the book did leave me staring fiercely at the pages trying to grasp everything that was said. I don’t really know how to explain what fell apart for me? 😬 It was really…philosophical and psychological about the analysing of what means MEANS. Simon is writing “impossible music”, aka music that has no sound. And look they went into detail about this but I still don’t get it lol.
The story also is basically told; not shown. Not my fave but a definite style.
// SIMON = ok I loved this messed up struggling kid. He’s drowning a bit, trying to deny his grief but also feed it with his refusal to face his deafness. His profound sense of loss and missing things (like just the sound of his guitar plugging into an amp) really hits him. He’s grieving and trying not to be a bitter snark about it. I did love his arc!
// G = also known as George-who-loves-coffee. Aka the LOVE INTEREST. She did feel a bit like a manic pixie dream girl (purple hair and orange lipstick and plays roller derby etc), but I liked her storyline a lot! She had tinnitus, which I realised I did NOT understand before reading this. She and Simon are a clashing hot mess together…but I did think they complimented each other.💛😫Also she tells him if he ever shows up to apologise to her and doesn’t bring coffee — hE CAN JUST LEAVE AGAIN. 😂
// SECONDARY CHARACTERS = um most of them were rather horrible to Simon lolol wow. His little sister is a total jerk particularly.
*:·ﾟ✧ deaf representation *:·ﾟ✧
I’m always wary of discussing an author IN a review; because tbh, a book review is about the book. But I’ve seen lots of comments on Goodreads about how a hearing author has written an intensely personal story about coming to term with deafness, and I agree that’s something to think about. I’m not deaf, but as someone with a disability, I do think the rep was done with respect. Also (from the author’s note) there was Deaf people collabing and reading it too and the author took 3 years learning sign language.
So idk. I mention this because I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss a book for not being #ownvoices BUT at the same time, especially with stories that are about what it’s like to be deaf but not by a deaf author, I do feel cautious. 😐
*:·ﾟ✧ OVERALL *:·ﾟ✧
This was a story of raw grief, of intense love and obsession with music, and of how your identity doesn’t have to be lost if your life changes — it can be reshaped to fit your journey. Simon was sad and a little jagged about the edges, but I really liked him! Some parts lost me (lol oops) but it was an interesting story.
thank you to Allen & Unwin for the review copy. IMPOSSIBLE MUSIC by Sean Williams is out now!
When the song is over, what remains? A novel about rediscovering yourself when everything you once took for granted is gone.
Music is Simon’s life – which is why he is devastated when a ministroke obliterates his hearing. He resists attempts to help him adjust to his new state, refusing to be counselled, refusing to learn sign language, refusing to have anything to do with Deaf culture. Refusing, that is, until he meets G, a tough-as-nails girl dealing with her own newly experienced hearing loss.
In an emotionally compelling tale crackling with originality, Simon’s quest to create an entirely new form of music forces him into a deeper understanding of his relationship to the hearing world, of himself, and of the girl he meets along the way.
| WHAT DO YOU THINK |
have you read many YA books with disability rep this year? is this one on your TBR at all?