“I saw him. I think he was the first person I’d ever truly seen and I couldn’t help it—I wanted him to see me, too.”
It’s been years since I read my very first Samantha Young novel, which was On Dublin Street. But as the years went by and I read more from her, I knew my love for how she spins her stories will be forever. The Impossible Vastness of Us is the latest proof of that.
To be honest, when I read the blurb before signing up for the blog tour, I guessed what the plot twist would be. And that’s the exact reason why I signed up to review this book—I wanted to know how Ms. Young would handle important topics plaguing the Young Adult literary world right now. I’ll get back on that later.
As with any of Samantha Young’s books I’ve read before, the plot is pretty engaging and it sucked me in right away. I literally read this in one sitting. I normally hate YA Contemporary but this is one I’d definitely recommend.
I was a little annoyed with India at first because all she cared about was her popularity and she was pretty mean with her mother. But as I got to know her more and the things and experiences that drove her actions, she became more and more real and relatable to me. The strained relationship between India and her mom, Hayley, was also interesting and I was happy with how it evolved along with the characters.
This book also tackled several delicate issues like domestic abuse and sexuality. I think Samantha Young handled those things pretty well, which is good because these are very important especially in a novel targeted towards a teen audience. I just wish there were more actions that she made her characters to that leans toward asking for help and guidance instead of avoidance.
So I mentioned earlier that I’m not a fan of YA Contemporary books and that’s because I don’t really love the open-endedness of most books in this genre. Sure, it leaves a lot of room for dozens of possibilities for the characters, but I want a concrete proof that the future of these people I’ve come to care about in a matter of a few hours will be the perfect one for them. Unfortunately, the ending of this book is kind of open-ended. There was also a part towards the end when Eloise’s dad did something and it changed the life of one of the characters, but he won’t tell exactly what he is he said or did which I think is a total cop out.
Overall, my problems with this book are minor issues compared to how much I enjoyed the story of Finn, India and Eloise. It’s just the sort of story that will impress upon you how important it is to confront your problems and learn to accept the people you love for who they really are.
Here’s an excerpt from The Impossible Vastness of Us
When Hayley arrived I got into the car without a word and we drove home to the apartment in silence. Once inside, Hayley finally spoke.
“I thought we could do takeout tonight.”
We couldn’t afford to do take-out nights all the time. Take-out nights were reserved for birthdays and the last night of school summer vacation. Sometimes even Thanksgiving.
Something was up. “Aren’t you supposed to be on a flight somewhere right about now?”
She shrugged, avoiding my gaze as she wandered into the kitchen.
I followed her, watching as she pulled take-out menus out of our kitchen drawer.
“What do you want? Chinese, Indian, Thai, Lebanese?”
“I want to get this ‘talk’ over with.”
Hayley regarded me, taking in my tension and the hard look in my eyes. Finally she sighed. “This is good news, India. Truly it is.”
“Just say it.”
“Theo proposed. I said yes. And we don’t want to wait. We’re getting married this December.”
My mouth dropped open. “I haven’t even met him.”
She pinched the bridge of her nose at my shout. “And that would be a concern if you were younger. But you’re starting junior year. You’re sixteen. Before we know it, you’ll be going off to college.” She stepped toward me and grabbed my hand. I let her squeeze it. “And, sweetheart, you can go to any college you want now.”
“Theo is…well, he’s wealthy. And he’s already made it perfectly clear that he wants the very best for me, and that means the very best for you.”
“Are you trying to buy my acceptance of this whole ridiculous thing? You are aware that this isn’t normal, right?”
Hayley dropped my hand. “Don’t be melodramatic. I just want you to know that yes, or course it will be difficult to leave behind school and your friends here and move to Massachusetts, but the upside is that we’ll never have another financial worry in our lives. Ever.”
Jesus, how wealthy was this guy?
As if she read the question on my face, Hayley smiled dreamily. “He’s an incredibly well-respected attorney from a wealthy family. Boston’s elite.”
“And he’s marrying you?”
“Nice,” she snapped. “Very nice.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.” I shrugged. “I just…I thought those people stuck to their own.”
“Usually. But Theo doesn’t care about that stuff. He just wants to marry the woman he loves.” She waved away my negativity with a shake of her hair over her shoulders. “He married a well-to-do woman, and they had a daughter, Eloise, before she died of cancer a few years ago. He hasn’t been serious about another woman since, until me.”
“Oh my God.” I shook my head in disgust. “You think you’re living in a fairy tale.”
“Don’t talk to me like that.”
“You’re hauling me across the country to move in with some guy I’ve never met!” I heard the hysteria creep into my voice, but couldn’t seem to stop it. “Let’s remember the last guy you chose that I had to live with. Or have you already forgotten?”
Understanding dawned on Hayley’s face. It was shocking that I even had to say it out loud. A good mother would have known exactly why I was taking this so hard. “Oh, sweetheart.” She moved toward me but stopped when I flinched back. “Theo is not like him. Not anything like him. I’m not a stupid kid anymore. I wouldn’t make that mistake again.”
I stared at the floor, trying to will my heart rate to slow. I could barely hear anything over the whooshing of blood in my ears.
I started at Hayley’s touch and looked up. She’d decided to ignore my body language and cross the room to take hold of my arms. She ducked her face to stare into my eyes.
“No one,” she whispered fiercely, “no one will hurt you. I promise.”
The scream rang out inside of me but somehow I swallowed it.
This was happening.