The Impossible Boy, by Anna Martin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 16, 2017
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
This is not your average love story.
Ben Easton is not your average romantic hero. He’s a tattooed, badass, wannabe rock star, working in a perfectly horrible dive bar in Camden Town. His life is good, and he’s totally unprepared for how one man will turn it upside down.
Stan isn’t your average heroine. As a gender-fluid man, he proudly wears his blond hair long, his heels sky-high, and his makeup perfectly executed. A fashion industry prodigy, Stan is in London after stints working in Italy and New York City, and he quickly falls for Ben’s devil-may-care attitude and the warm, soft heart Ben hides behind it.
Beneath the perfect, elegant exterior, Stan has plenty of scars from teenage battles with anorexia. And it only takes the slightest slip for his demons to rush back in while Ben is away touring with his band. With the band on the brink of a breakthrough, Ben is forced to find a way to balance the opportunity of a lifetime with caring for his beautiful boyfriend.
A nonconforming, genderfluid hero written by an author I enjoy? I thought for sure The Impossible Boy would be right up my alley but sadly, it was a miss for me. I wouldn’t say I disliked the book, but I didn’t love it either.
The story revolves around Stan, a dropdead gorgeous genderfluid man and his love interest, tattooed rock musician Ben. The book is divided into two parts, the first of which focuses on their blossoming romance. Their love story unfolds smoothly and the two fall perfectly and effortlessly in love. While this was really lovely and all, it took up a whopping 60% of the book. To say I was dying for something to happen was an understatement.
But of course, things do happen. Ben’s band goes on tour (see blurb!). But on a much more serious note, Stan’s battle with anorexia resurfaces (also see blurb). Frustratingly, Stan’s relapse (a major plot point, mind you) happens entirely off page. One minute he’s happy, dancing, and in love and the next, he’s… not. I’m not saying I needed every detail of his downward spiral, but not seeing it made the story feel so disjointed. The way it was glossed over felt a bit like a cop-out and I thought it was a missed opportunity to let the reader connect with this complex character and serious illness.
Part Two of the book focuses on Stan’s treatment and recovery. The author takes great care to show us the gravity of his condition and drives home the point that this is something that Stan will be fighting for the rest of his life. We also see Ben, in the dark and completely out of his depth, try to be there for his partner. But once again, just like in part one, I felt that there was something missing.
It was almost like the author was so mindful of getting the genderfluidity and anorexia just right that she forgot to focus on the rest of the story. I thought it lacked direction and I found myself bored and emotionally uninvested during most of the book. On top of that, while the romance was sweet, there was not a lot of heat between the heroes in or out of the bedroom. There was no lover’s quarrel to resolve (unless you count Stan being a typically bad patient) and even Ben’s dilemma with the band (see blurb!) is settled in the most remarkable (ie. unbelievable) way.
As a cis woman, I can’t speak to the “authenticity” of Stan’s genderfluidity, but I thought his character was complex and fascinating. Sadly, I never really got to know what was going on inside his head. Ben was more of an open book and an all-around awesome boyfriend so unsurprisingly I adored him. However, my favorite character was actually Ben’s bandmate and best friend Tone, who at first came off as super rude but turned out to be a real gem. I loved how matter of fact and supportive he was with both Stan and Ben, particularly as Ben tried to figure out how to be there for his partner.
Overall, The Impossible Boy captured my attention but was unable to hold it for very long.
Anna Martin is from a picturesque seaside village in the south west of England and now lives in Bristol. After spending most of her childhood making up stories, she studied English Literature at university before turning her hand as a professional writer.
Apart from being physically dependent on her laptop, Anna is enthusiastic about writing and producing local grassroots theatre (especially at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she can be found every summer), visiting friends who live in other countries, Marvel Comics, learning new things, and Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk.
Although her most recent work is in the LGBT Adult Fiction genre, in the past Anna has worked on a variety of different projects including short stories, drabbles, flash fiction, fan fiction, plays for both children and adults, and poetry. She has written novels in the Teen/ Young Adult genre, Romance, and Fantasy novels.
Anna claims her entire career is due to the love, support, pre-reading and creative ass-kicking provided by her closest friend Jennifer. Jennifer refuses to accept any responsibility for anything Anna has written.
You can purchase The Impossible Boy at:
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.