Published: 12 January 2023
Author: Catherine Newman
Published by: Doubleday
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Length: 224 pages
Reading dates: 15-19 November 2022
Who knows you better than your best friend? Who knows your secrets, your fears, your desires, your strange imperfect self? Edi and Ash have been best friends for over forty years. Since childhood they have seen each other through life’s milestones: stealing vodka from their parents, the Madonna phase, REM concerts, unexpected wakes, marriages, infertility, children. As Ash notes, ‘Edi’s memory is like the back-up hard drive for mine.’
So when Edi is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ash’s world reshapes around the rhythms of Edi’s care, from chipped ice and watermelon cubes to music therapy, from snack smuggling to impromptu excursions into the frozen winter night. Because life is about squeezing the joy out of every moment, about building a powerhouse of memories, about learning when to hold on, and when to let go.
For fans of Nora Ephron and Sorrow & Bliss, We All Want Impossible Things is a deeply moving, jubilant celebration of life and friendship at its imperfect, radiant, and irreverent best.
Determined that 2023 will be the year I am able to read all the proofs I am sent, and with November / December being a quiet couple of months for new books, I decided to make a start on my January 2023 books. And what a book to start with!
We All Want Impossible Things is the story of Edi and Ash, women in their 40s who have been lifelong friends. Edi is nearing the end of her life having been diagnosed with terminal cancer. When palliative care at a hospice is suggested, they agree Edi should say her goodbyes to her young son and husband and move to a hospice near Ash who can dedicate the time to care for her friend.
The story is told from Ash’s point of view as her friend deteriorates. It describes the relationships with her daughters and her ex-husband Honey, the people she is sleeping with in an attempt to distract her from the horror around her and the history of their friendship, how they have always been there for each other. It is a not a romantic depiction of what someone is dying is like – it is messy and emotional and all-encompassing.
Not an easy read at times but one that is also funny and moving, I adored this book! I loved the relationship between Ash and her teenage daughter Belle especially. I also appreciate any book that has descriptions of food and there is plenty of that here! Having experienced caring for both my mum and mother-in-law when they were under hospice care, I can completely relate to the strangeness of the whole situation and have to say that I think hospices and their staff are wonderful places.
A beautifully written character driven novel which is humorous and emotionally-charged, I predict We All Want Impossible Things will be the book everyone is talking about early next year.
I was lucky enough to be sent a beautiful proof copy from the lovely Alison Barrow.
About the author
Catherine Newman is the author of the kids’ how-to books How to Be a Person and What Can I Say?, the memoirs Catastrophic Happiness and Waiting for Birdy, the middle-grade novel One Mixed-Up Night, and the food and parenting blog Ben and Birdy, and she edits the non-profit kids’ cooking magazine ChopChop. She is also the etiquette columnist for Real Simple magazine and a regular contributor to the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Boston Globe, and many other publications. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family.
[…] We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman (published 12 Jan 2023) […]