Michelle Barker’s second YA novel, My Long List of Impossible Things, explores the aftermath of World War II through the eyes of a German teenager. It depicts the struggles of a country and a people reeling from the horrors of war, silent compliance with genocide and Nazism, while being occupied by another dictatorial regime, the Soviet Union. Barker treats this subject with care to make it much more of a nuanced story, rather than a work that attempts to garner sympathy for Germany in this period. She captures the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical journey or a girl living in a bubble during the war, rarely coming into contact with those things that terrify her, until her life is upended and she must make a new way for herself. This theme is something that many of us are feeling in the present day, adjusting to our new normal, which looks so different from what it was days, weeks, months, or even years ago.
This heavy subject is presented in way that young readers, young adults, and college students can easily digest and understand another view of the aftermath of the war, rarely depicted in mass media. A couple of warnings for scenes depicting or referencing sexual assault, rape, graphic violence, and genocide. This book evoked an emotional response on more than one occasion for me due to it’s realism and highly stylistic writing. I found myself feeling exactly what Katja felt in those moments: terror, determination, love, fear, desperation, etc.
“You never knew when something would happen for the last time. If you did, you’d cling to every precious second.”
This sentiment is echoing so loudly here in the present day. This novel is not only timely, but something that so many of us should read. Though we are not facing the same dangers that Katja and Hilde eventually faced in their narrative, we are facing tumultuous change throughout our world.
The pacing of this work is spot on and the character development is wonderfully done! I could not have been happier to have had the chance to read and review this book. Michelle Barker is a top notch author! I would recommend this book to all young adults, college students, and anyone interested in post WWII historical fiction. Really a superb read!
This book is out now from Annick Press at most major retailers!
I received a galley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.