By Fiona Wood
Available now from Poppy (Hachette)
Dan Cereill had a pretty cushy life, but now his parents are divorced and he's living in his mom in a historically protected house that smells terrible. Among other things, he just wants to not be a complete loser and to be a good guy (unlike his dad, who he blames for the divorce).
I've heard about Fiona Wood through The Bookish Manicurist, who maintains a list of recommended Aussie YA. I haven't read WILDLIFE yet, but I'm definitely going to check it out based on how much I enjoyed SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS. Dan seems a bit advanced for his age (he's fourteen), but he was still a believable teenage boy. I liked the way high school, girl, and family problems blended together and that learning to navigate one helped Dan out with others.
The supporting cast is also likeable, from Estelle (the girl next door he has a crush on) to his other neighbor's girlfriend who is always available to help out a friend. I particularly liked Dan's mother, who is struggling to build a business to support her and Dan. Unfortunately, she went into wedding cakes. She has the skill, but it isn't the most suitable job for a recent divorcee. The running gag of her breaking up future marriages goes on long enough to go from funny to not funny, and back around to funny.
I liked that Dan isn't instantly forgiven for his mistakes, but has to work to make amends. I also liked that he understood the things he does wrong in pursuit of his six impossible things. At the same time, he also does a number of good things in his struggle. He listens to people, gets involved, and is generally proactive. I like a protagonist who goes after what they want.
SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS is a breezy read for the younger YA set. It's also a nice change of pace from most contemporary YA thanks to the Australian setting.