Review by Jasmine Sov, 14
The Easy Part of Impossible By Sarah Tomp
The Easy Part of Impossible by Sarah Tomp is told from the perspective of ADHD-diagnosed Victoria “Ria” Williams, a teenage diver who excels in her sport as opposed to her struggles in school. Fiercely pushed along and put under high pressure by her coach, Benny, diving quickly went from a hobby to a probable career prospect. Or at least until a freak accident made it all come crashing down. In the blink of an eye, Ria is thrust back into a life without diving—or Benny. With nothing to fill her days, she rekindles an old elementary school friendship with Cotton, an autistic boy who helps her to see that Benny’s harsh rules and punishments weren’t just pressure—it was abuse. But when Benny returns with a diving opportunity that could change everything, Ria must solve the conundrum of how to keep doing the thing she loves without getting tangled back up with the thing she fears most.
I admired Ria’s growth as a person, which was reflected by events in the story. For example, Tomp uses her and Cotton spelunking in a deep cave as a metaphor of her self-discovery journey. Additionally, Ria’s unwavering breakup with her boyfriend Sean, who had planned a date using advice that Benny had given him, showed how she was coming to realize that Benny was a toxic influence. Cotton had a riveting subplot as well, with him gradually maturing as he came to terms with the loss of his little sister Esther.
While I did find Ria’s and Cotton’s individual character development interesting to see, I didn’t think that Ria’s romantic relationship with Cotton was very necessary to the plot, nor was it essential for the growth of either character. To quote Hayao Miyazaki, “I’ve become skeptical of the unwritten rule that just because a boy and girl appear in the same feature, a romance must ensue. Rather, I want to portray a slightly different relationship, one where the two mutually inspire each other to live—if I’m able to, then perhaps I’ll be closer to portraying a true expression of love.” If anything, just having Ria become good friends with Cotton and focusing on her diving passion would have conveyed the book’s message better.