Impossible Music

Impossible Music

Music is Simon’s life—which is why he is devastated when a stroke destroys his hearing. He resists attempts to help him adjust to his new state, refusing to be counselled, refusing to learn sign-language, refusing to have anything to do with Deaf culture. Refusing, that is, until he meets G, a tough-as-nails girl dealing with her own newly-experienced deafness....

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Title:Impossible Music
Author:Sean Williams
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Impossible Music Reviews

  • Kathryn

    Utterly brilliant story of a young musician who experiences a rare form of hearing loss & his journey toward understanding the hand he has been dealt.

    A longer review will appear on my blog, Kathryn's Inbox in early July 2019.

  • Marti

    Read full review here:

    Music can be transmitted through words. Not just music, but noise as well. If you find the right words and put them together, you will be able to hear a horse galloping through the green, windy mountain. Flowers dancing at the beat of the wind, bees buzzing from one bloom to the next. It is a beautiful thing to hear sounds through words, using past experiences and imagination as primary sources. I didn’t know, or maybe didn’t pay at

    Read full review here:

    Music can be transmitted through words. Not just music, but noise as well. If you find the right words and put them together, you will be able to hear a horse galloping through the green, windy mountain. Flowers dancing at the beat of the wind, bees buzzing from one bloom to the next. It is a beautiful thing to hear sounds through words, using past experiences and imagination as primary sources. I didn’t know, or maybe didn’t pay attention until I read this book, how silence, so clear and present, can be heard in the same way. This book is full if sounds, but also filled with silence. A silence that sometimes is welcomed and others it makes it hard to breath. It is written so beautifully it gives the reader that feeling of utter, never-ending and complete silence. I found myself listening more intently to the chirping of birds, the leaves crunching under my feet, the wind moving my hair, and also the annoying sounds like airplanes passing or the noise the air conditioner makes. Everything around me became a sound, even the seconds on the clock. My own breathing, my own heartbeat. It was the weirdest feeling to open myself to these sounds. Like how you blink and breathe naturally without thinking about it, but then you keep thinking about it, cannot stop thinking about it and so you keep your eyes open until they burn and you challenge yourself to see how long you can hold your breath, just to fool yourself into thinking you can control it, until something else gets your instant attention and you forget while your body resumes doing your job for you. I yearn for books that help you see the world through a different light, and this was it for me. The topic has always been important to me, so much I know ASL a little bit, and this book was everything I hoped it would be and more.

    It is a beautifully painful story, written in a fantastic way and that in my opinion has relevance in the world we live in today. If you haven’t please read it. If you have, tell me what you think about it and don’t be afraid if we don’t agree! I’d love to hear from you anyways.

    *Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this wonderful book. All opinions are honest and my own.*

  • Meghan

    This book was received as an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

    This was such an inspiring story that it brought me to tears. The story behind Simon and G and how they are so musically talented suffering from this illness that costs them their gift of hearing and still strive for their dreams. This is a story that teaches adversity, hardship, struggle and perseverance that

    This book was received as an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

    This was such an inspiring story that it brought me to tears. The story behind Simon and G and how they are so musically talented suffering from this illness that costs them their gift of hearing and still strive for their dreams. This is a story that teaches adversity, hardship, struggle and perseverance that everyone not just teens because it opens up a new world of the wonderful thing we call reality and instead of feeling sad and sorry, feel like you can still achieve your dreams and conquer the world.

    This title will definitely be considered for our YFiction collection at our library. That is why we are proud to give this book 5 stars.

  • Rachel

    I received this e-ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    I found myself enjoying this book far more than I expected to as someone who rarely picks up contemporary novels and knows next to nothing about how music is actually made. I thought the premise of Impossible Music sounded interesting and relatively unique, and I feel I was proven right in those respects.

    I have already seen many reviews criticizing Impossible Music for not being an Own Voices story, but I thin

    I received this e-ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    I found myself enjoying this book far more than I expected to as someone who rarely picks up contemporary novels and knows next to nothing about how music is actually made. I thought the premise of Impossible Music sounded interesting and relatively unique, and I feel I was proven right in those respects.

    I have already seen many reviews criticizing Impossible Music for not being an Own Voices story, but I think it would be a shame for anyone to choose that as a reason not to read this book. The author has an extensive note explaining the many years of research he did on Auslan, Deaf culture, and hearing loss journeys. (He also explained the many ways in which parts of this novel are rather autobiographical for him, a detail that did not escape me as I read.) Simon's journey was relateable and I never felt like any information was being force fed to be, instead developing organically on the page as Simon discovered it for himself.

    The negatives here come down to what I think of as cosmetic changes. I thought the structure of having the plot told out of order was clunky at best and confusing and difficult to connect with at worst. And George-Who-Loves-Coffee came off as a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl... a trope I am utterly tired of.

    But I learned so much about being deaf and about music that I almost didn't care about the negatives. Simon's compositions and performances were fascinating to me, and I am sure I'm going to fall down a YouTube rabbit hole with all of the recommendations the author left in his acknowledgements.

    Trigger warning for (sometimes extensive) talk of suicide. Also one use of the r-word... which I found baffling. It wasn't used in a derogatory way, but it still seemed like a better word could have been used instead.

    Characters: 3.5

    Atmosphere: 3.5

    Writing Style: 3

    Plot: 3

    Intrigue: 4

    Logic: 4.5

    Enjoyment: 3.5

    (for full details on this rating system see:

    )

  • McKayla Moors

    I have a lot of complicated feelings about this book. On the one hand, Williams's use of language is excellent. He crafts some beautiful poetry around the ideas of Deafness, loss, change, personal growth, anger, love, creativity, etc. Sometimes I would get lost in the words, words that sang off the page. On the other hand, the story was incredibly slow, and even though very little happened, it was difficult to follow.

    To start on that note, there was absolutely no reason for this story not to be

    I have a lot of complicated feelings about this book. On the one hand, Williams's use of language is excellent. He crafts some beautiful poetry around the ideas of Deafness, loss, change, personal growth, anger, love, creativity, etc. Sometimes I would get lost in the words, words that sang off the page. On the other hand, the story was incredibly slow, and even though very little happened, it was difficult to follow.

    To start on that note, there was absolutely no reason for this story not to be told in chronological order. Nothing was gained, no new insight given, by having each chapter told at a different point over a roughly four-month period. I was never, ever sure when anything was happening—each chapter

    dated, but in small, easy-to-miss print, and even within a chapter the timeline would skip around a lot—and at some point I gave up trying to keep the events in order and just pretended that I was actually reading a straight timeline. It didn't make sense, but it was easier.

    I also did not understand the point of the romance between Simon and G. G, a slightly more complex take on the manic pixie dream girl, lacked all semblance of a personality (the "I'm not like other girls" JUMPED out), and I have no idea why Simon likes her, or why she likes Simon. Individually, their plots were fairly interesting (in fact, I think I would have rather heard all of G's story than all of Simon's), but together, I just...didn't care.

    And speaking of G, she and, frankly, everyone else in Simon's life were pretty dickish to him regarding his grieving process. Sure, Simon would

    have to come to terms with his sudden total Deafness, a fact he acknowledges to himself several times throughout the book. But if I'm remembering correctly, this book covers only the first four months-ish after the day he wakes up Deaf. That is...not a lot of time. I'd probably be raged out for a year or so. It's a massive part of yourself to lose in an instant, especially when music is as critically important to your identity as it is to Simon. If the sudden, permanent loss that Simon had experienced was, say, the death of a loved one, I don't think his girlfriend, mom, sister, therapists, etc. would be expecting him to get over it so quickly and completely. Hearing/music was a loved one for Simon. I think he was making amazing, creative strides toward recovery throughout this book—not to be spoiler-y, but his Impossible Music series was genius, and, to me, a clear sign of someone trying to make something beautiful and connective out of a personal tragedy—and yet no one in his life would get off his fucking back. He needs better people in his life. (Other than his bandmates, who, to me, were the only good and useful people in the book.)

    If I could edit this book, I would cut out everything that wasn't directly related to Simon and his Impossible Music series. That was the source of Simon's character growth and development, and it was beautifully written. Everything related to Simon's deconstruction and understanding of his own Deafness was so lovely—I won't comment on whether or not Simon's feelings, opinions, ideas, descriptions, etc. of Deafness are accurate or representative of actual Deafness, because I am not Deaf (nor, I should mention, is the author)—and I just wanted to read that. I didn't care about his romance with G or his mom's judgement or his weird relationship with his dad or his therapy or anything else. It was pretty clear to me that the only thing really helping Simon move forward while still maintaining his identity was the music program and the Impossible Music project. I don't understand why everyone in his life shat on him for it, because it was the thing that was helping him heal. I would have easily read that and only that for 300 pages, because the rest of the book was slow and frankly irritating.

  • Adriana

    I haven't fully processed this book to give a full review but here are some thoughts I have for now:

    Impossible Music was able to get to the emotional side of me. I felt Simon's anger and pain. Waking up and not being able to hear would be devastating. His connection to music made this point come across well.

    The going back and forth between a couple of months at a time felt off putting. It just confused me and messed with my reading experience.

    The writing of Simon's emotions and his connection t

    I haven't fully processed this book to give a full review but here are some thoughts I have for now:

    Impossible Music was able to get to the emotional side of me. I felt Simon's anger and pain. Waking up and not being able to hear would be devastating. His connection to music made this point come across well.

    The going back and forth between a couple of months at a time felt off putting. It just confused me and messed with my reading experience.

    The writing of Simon's emotions and his connection to music was well done, however I felt like the writing was also holding me back from loving this book. Maybe it was because it was slow. I'm not sure. There was just something missing I can't put into words.

    I could understand why the way Simon became deaf would be disappointing because he isn't the typical deaf kid, however it illustrated his anger so much more of what losing his hearing meant to him. I didn't have a problem with that part of the story.

    I did end up liking this story. I think if the timeline wasn't chopped up or if it was faster paced I would have given this a higher rating.

  • Isaiah

    To read more reviews check out

    .

    I got an ARC of this book.

    I am not too sure how I feel about this book. It isn't the worst book I have ever read, but it is far from the best book. It feels like it is lacking some depth, but I can't say from where exactly.

    The characters are almost 3D. Instead they have a lot of emotions, but it was easy to pinpoint every reason and action before it happened. I wasn't left with a lot of mystery. Everything felt like it happened just so and it was a

    To read more reviews check out

    .

    I got an ARC of this book.

    I am not too sure how I feel about this book. It isn't the worst book I have ever read, but it is far from the best book. It feels like it is lacking some depth, but I can't say from where exactly.

    The characters are almost 3D. Instead they have a lot of emotions, but it was easy to pinpoint every reason and action before it happened. I wasn't left with a lot of mystery. Everything felt like it happened just so and it was a little like reading a textbook in the level of connection I was able to achieve with the characters. G is pretty much the manic pixie dream girl character, but the punk version. She is also not on page as much as I am used to from that trope. Instead the idea of her is present instead of her. Usually the manic pixie dream girl is my favorite character, but I didn't really know G because Simon really doesn't know her.

    The depth of emotion for Simon was just everything is angry. He experiences everything an anger. Great. I can get behind that. A lot of my emotions are anger at first until I actually figure things out. The issue is there is no feeling of resolution when Simon figures out what he really feels. At one point G tells him flat out what his emotions are, because he isn't figuring them out. There wasn't all that much growth. The growth there was felt forced and very much not the growth that would be expected for a novel like this. 

    I felt like the ending was just a let down. I don't know how to explain it, but everything about it just felt like it wasn't as big as Simon was making it out to be. It felt like there was just something missing. I can't put my finger on it. 

    Overall, the book was ok. It wasn't great and it wasn't bad. I was often bored and felt trapped in a cycle of anger and confusion, but not even that intense of anger or confusion. If the book was half the length and written in a lower reading level, I probably would have loved it. 

  • Rebecca

    ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher.

    Nope. Thumbs down.

    As a hearing impaired person, I am all for HOH/Deaf rep. I want it. I will read any and everything with a HOH/Deaf character in it. I will give pretty much anything the benefit of the doubt but most of the time, they stink.

    1. This isn’t own voices. Which super bugs me because no matter how much research you do, or how many HOH/Deaf people you know ... you won’t ever get it right.

    2.It focuses on a very, very rare form of hearing impa

    ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher.

    Nope. Thumbs down.

    As a hearing impaired person, I am all for HOH/Deaf rep. I want it. I will read any and everything with a HOH/Deaf character in it. I will give pretty much anything the benefit of the doubt but most of the time, they stink.

    1. This isn’t own voices. Which super bugs me because no matter how much research you do, or how many HOH/Deaf people you know ... you won’t ever get it right.

    2.It focuses on a very, very rare form of hearing impairment (He says he’s the 13th case in all of medical history ... bleh! This should have been framed around progressive hearing loss due to noise instead of the traumatic brain injury. It would have made this character more relatable to kids looking for representation.)

    3. And G is TOTALLY painted as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (anger, purple hair, blue lipstick, and roller derby all included).

    This concept was so promising linking music and hearing impairment. It really could have had a moment and it could have been so amazing. Maybe what this really needed was a HOH/Deaf sensitivity reader? Idk. Teens may be interested in this because of the music-hearing loss link ... but that doesn’t mean it’s one that I really want to put into their hands.

  • C.G. Drews

    Impossible Music features a profoundly deaf teen. Simon is an ex-wannabe-rock-god who has a stroke and wakes up profoundly deaf (it's a very rare brain damage) and the story is basically him trying to reconcile his musician identity with being deaf.

    It's obviously very deeply about grief. He lost a huge part of himself and he's struggling...and you really really feel the depth and aching of that loss wit

    Impossible Music features a profoundly deaf teen. Simon is an ex-wannabe-rock-god who has a stroke and wakes up profoundly deaf (it's a very rare brain damage) and the story is basically him trying to reconcile his musician identity with being deaf.

    It's obviously very deeply about grief. He lost a huge part of himself and he's struggling...and you really really feel the depth and aching of that loss with him. But what I appreciate? While Simon is rejecting his disability (refusing to learn sign language; doesn't want to be considered as deaf; etc etc) the story overall is about being empowered as a disabled person. I appreciate.

    I don't really know how to explain what fell apart for me? It was really...philosophical and psychological about the analysing of what means MEANS. Simon is writing "impossible music", aka music that has no sound. And look they went into detail about this but I still don't get it lol.The story also is basically told; not shown. Not my fave but a definite style, so this isn't a critique or anything. I just mesh better with immersive prose. 

    :

    // SIMON = ok I loved this messed up struggling kid. He's drowning a bit, trying to deny his grief but also feed it with his refusal to face his deafness. His profound sense of loss and missing things (like just the sound of his guitar plugging into an amp) really hits him. He's grieving and trying not to be a bitter snark about it. I did love his arc! He grows a lot throughout the book.

    // G = also known as George-who-loves-coffee. Aka the LOVE INTEREST. She did feel a bit like a manic pixie dream girl (purple hair and orange lipstick and plays roller derby etc), but eh. I don't think she was ultimately. She had tinnitus, which I realised I did NOT understand before reading this. I learned a lot. She and Simon are a clashing hot mess together...but I did think they complimented each other.Also she tells him if he ever shows up to apologise to her and doesn't bring coffee -- hE CAN JUST LEAVE AGAIN.

    // SECONDARY CHARACTERS = um most of them were rather horrible to Simon lolol wow. His little sister is a total jerk and his mum is really berating him (lovingly?) for grieving. Like I get it. He needs to learn sign and accept himself. But idk I think Simon deserved space and they were all a bit aggressive at him to hurry up and deal.

    because tbh, a book review is about the book. But I've seen lots of comments on Goodreads about how a hearing author has written an intensely personal story about coming to term with deafness, and I agree that's something to think about. I'm not deaf, but as someone with a disability, I do think the rep was done respectfully with love to Deaf culture. Also (from the author's note) there was Deaf people collabing and reading it too and the author actually took 3 years learning sign language too.So idk. I mention this because I don't think it's fair to dismiss a book for not being #ownvoices BUT at the same time, especially with stories that are about what it's like to be deaf but not by a deaf author, I do feel cautious.

    and of how your identity doesn't have to be lost if your life changes -- it can be reshaped to fit your journey. Simon was sad and a little jagged about the edges, but I really liked him! Some parts lost me (lol oops) but it was a very very interesting story.

  • Lea (drumsofautumn)

    So uh.. this was one of my biggest fears for a long time so this novel intrigues me so much BUT it has so much potential to be harmful and I think it's not ownvoices?

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