Lindsay Lackey’s All the Impossible Things (2019) swept me away like a discarded paper bag on a windy day. It’s a beautiful story that is skillfully written and carefully paced with brave characters who love each other the best they can. I enjoyed it immensely and think you will as well.
At the center of the story is twelve-year-old Ruby “Red” Byrd. Red is in foster care after losing her grandmother to cancer and her mother to addiction. Reuniting with her incarcerated mother is a hope that lingers throughout the text, as do reminders of her relationship with her grandmother. This is a little girl who has known fierce love, even if the two women who loved her ultimately couldn’t care for her.
Red moves through the foster care system guided by a caring social worker. She finally ends up with the Grooves, an older interracial couple, who run a small petting zoo that includes an old tortoise. The Grooves provide Red with the home she deserves but she hesitates to connect with them, hoping for a reunion with her mother.
The story is fantastic enough without the addition of Red’s inherited connection to nature. Like her mother, Red’s emotions are written on the wind. When Red is angry the wind is violent, when she is happy, it conjures a playful breeze. This magical characteristic is very present in the text, but it doesn’t overwhelm, instead the movement of the wind seems like a natural and just extension of Red’s emotional state, giving her power when she would otherwise be powerless.
All the Impossible Things is written for a middle grade audience, but it will certainly be enjoyed by teenage and adult readers alike. Lackey writes a complex but accessible story thick with emotion and wonder. I want to read it again.