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Reviewed by Thora Moffatt
Opening sentence
When I wake up, I'm not alone.
The Impossible Story of Hannah Kemp is a funny, engaging, magical story which changes our perspective on many issues teens are facing. It provides a brilliant new insight into the mind of a teenage girl, as well as dealing with problems that are relatable to many teenagers today.

The book follows 15-year-old Hannah Kemp, who was recently involved in an accident that was her fault. This has resulted in her being grounded and forced to work for her neighbor, who was affected in the accident. When in town, Hannah finds a mobile library that immediately catches her eye–inside, she finds books that seem to tell the tales of people she knows. But when she finds her book, she needs to learn not to get stuck in the past as she struggles connecting to her adoptive parents and moving on from the accident.

The Impossible Story of Hannah Kemp provides a unique perspective on teenagers. Hannah Kemp would be the antagonist of most stories, but here we learn the truth about why she may have done some things. I love how Hannah is often spontaneous and not always thinking about what was best, which makes her character seem more realistic and genuine, as she was not just the perfect person. She feels strongly about protecting her friends and, although she sometimes makes mistakes, proves how she still needs the support of those around her to help make up for that. She also has a genuine relationship with her parents, not always getting along with her mother, she begins to wish she was still with her birth mother, but she soon realizes how much her mum loves her and wants to protect her.

The writing style of this book was incredible: it was easy to read, and I could easily follow the plot as well as Hannah’s train of thought. Each character has a distinct personality and is easy to picture due to the detailed description. I was engaged throughout this book and genuinely felt for Hannah as she struggles to overcome her past, as well as being extremely interested in the plot. I think the magical element was a good touch as it added a little more excitement to the story and meant it was not too serious a book. I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of the magic library and how it helped explore Hannah’s struggles with her past.

I would recommend this book to teenagers or 15 and older, it does contain some more adult messages and deals with subjects such as neglect and some mental disorders that younger readers may not enjoy/understand. It would also be more relatable to fifteen-year-olds as that is how old Hannah is so they will likely find the story more interesting.

Overall, I would recommend this book to those who like a realistic story but are wanting to get more into fantasy-like stories. This is a well written book with a clear plot and distinct characters, and it was an engaging and thrilling read from begin to finish.

- Thora is 15 years old and lives in Nelson
Author & Illustrator: Leonie Agnew
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 9871760657239
Format: Paperback
Publication: April 2023
Ages: 15+
Themes: Coming of age, trauma, mental illness, fantasy