We need more stories like this one, stories about the power of love. Not just the one for another person, but also the one we have for our children, that they have for us parents. It’s difficult, sometimes. Not hating, taking that step into understanding that one person can’t be held responsible for anything other than his or her actions. The nationality we belong to can’t be used as a parameter of judgment–which is why I understand Elise. Yet, sometimes pain burns too much to see it, to see reason–which is why I understand Elise’s parents.
I spoke about this with Katy, the Author, so stay with me a little longer.
The story is The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman out today in the Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult Genre.
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?
And here’s my chat with Katy.
Hi, and thank you for being here! Your Heroines always have troubles with acceptance in their families (Jillian’s dad disapproving of Max; the entire family disapproving of Mati). Different reasons behind it, but the same outcome. Is acceptance a theme you wanted to explore? Something particularly important to you, in your experience as a mom and former teacher? Or it was just by chance?
When I was in high school, acceptance seemed profoundly important – acceptance from friends, from teachers, and from my parents. It was something I worked hard for, something that carried a lot of weight—perhaps too much weight. When acceptance was impossible to come by, I remember feeling devastated, like I’d never recover.
As an adult, I’ve gained enough perspective to know that if a person can’t accept me and my choices, the problem likely sits with them. Additionally, I’ve realized that as well as demonstrating kindness and decency, acceptance can be advantageous to the granter. It often comes with new knowledge, empathy, and personal growth. It can also set a behavior precedent for others; this is something I think about constantly, both as a mom and as someone who writes for the young adult audience.
While Jillian (Kissing Max Holden) and Elise (The Impossibility of Us) are in very different situations, they both spend the better part of their respective narratives seeking acceptance, particularly as it relates to their romantic partners. Jillian’s dad refuses to accept Max because he’s going through a rough time and makes destructive choices as a result. Elise’s mom refuses to accept Mati because his culture and religion are different from what she’s familiar with. Jillian’s dad’s disapproval of Max comes mostly from a place of protectiveness, and Elise’s mom’s disapproval of Mati stems from prejudice and bigotry, but the protagonists from both stories walk similar paths in realizing the unfairness of their parents’ judgement, confronting it, and repeatedly challenging it.
As I’ve explored acceptance in these stories, I’ve focused particularly on acceptance in the way of the adults in my main characters’ lives. It’s important to me to portray the parental figures in my books as realistic. So, while some are strong and supportive and accepting, others are deeply flawed. Adults as fallible was a shocking realization to Teen Me; even more so was the slow understanding that I was capable of shifting the outlook of the adults around me.
A similar mission of change has become part of the character arcs of both Jillian and Elise. While they’re not perfect, they strive to model compassion and acceptance to the narrow-minded adults in their lives: their parents who, ideally, should be the ones setting the example. Jillian and Elise aren’t always successful, but they’re persistent, and I hope their determination will resonate with readers—young adults and adults alike.
If you want to know more about Katy or her story, you can do it by following the entire tour here:
Katy Upperman is a graduate of Washington State University, a former elementary school teacher, and an insatiable reader. When not writing for young adults, Katy can be found whipping up batches of chocolate chip cookies or exploring the country with her husband and daughter. KISSING MAX HOLDEN is her debut novel; her sophomore novel, THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF US, will be available summer, 2018.