cover image This Impossible Light

This Impossible Light

Lily Myers. Philomel, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-17372-1

In an exceptional novel in verse, slam poet Myers debuts with a powerful commentary on maternal inheritance and eating disorders. Ivy, a high school sophomore, is a self-described smart girl who “understands that/ discipline is success.” Since her parents’ divorce and her mother’s subsequent withdrawal into herself (“More far-off stares./ More wine./ More silence”), Ivy finds comfort in assuming control where she can, such as in math: “Numbers keep their promises.” When Ivy’s need for control moves outside the classroom, she begins to severely limit her food intake and to exercise excessively. As Ivy’s obsession grows and her body begins to fail, she is forced confront her familial issues and harmful choices in order to begin her journey back to physical and mental health. Myers makes striking use of the flexibility of free verse to communicate Ivy’s emotions and eventual loss of control. Ivy’s relationship with her mother and her understanding of what she has inherited from her— “the unspoken lessons/ that worm their way under my skin/ the things I wish I could unlearn”—are particularly absorbing and evocative. Ages 12–up. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. (June)