Monday, January 16, 2017

ARC Review: The Impossible Boy by Anna Martin

This is not your average love story.

Ben Easton is not your average romantic hero. He’s a tattooed, badass, wannabe rock star, working in a perfectly horrible dive bar in Camden Town. His life is good, and he’s totally unprepared for how one man will turn it upside down.

Stan isn’t your average heroine. As a gender-fluid man, he proudly wears his blond hair long, his heels sky-high, and his makeup perfectly executed. A fashion industry prodigy, Stan is in London after stints working in Italy and New York City, and he quickly falls for Ben’s devil-may-care attitude and the warm, soft heart Ben hides behind it.

Beneath the perfect, elegant exterior, Stan has plenty of scars from teenage battles with anorexia. And it only takes the slightest slip for his demons to rush back in while Ben is away touring with his band. With the band on the brink of a breakthrough, Ben is forced to find a way to balance the opportunity of a lifetime with caring for his beautiful boyfriend.

Dani's rating:

"I can do anything . . . With my beautiful, impossible boy."

Stan (short for Stanislav) is a boy. And a girl. He's not transgender; he's gender fluid. He's a feminine man who rocks dresses and high heels and has bins full of makeup. A creative director at a fashion magazine, he turns heads wherever he goes.

Stan is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. But beauty can be a curse. Always different, always apart, Stan controls what he can: his body and food.

The Impossible Boy is a tender romance. But it's also a serious exploration of gender identity and eating disorders. Stan is anorexic, his illness a beast lurking in the corners of his mind.

Ben, a bartender and guitarist, is an ordinary bloke with an extraordinary heart. When Ben first sees Stan striding into his bar, he thinks Stan is a "long-legged goddess" but he's not even remotely disappointed when he realizes Stan is a boy.

Ben takes Stan as he is; even when Stan tells him he's anorexic, Ben doesn't falter.

"I want all of you . . . I love every part of you. All of it."

Stan and Ben's relationship is thoughtful and sweet. They take walks in the park and cuddle on the couch. They kiss and make tender love. Ben is so completely in love with Stan, it shows in every gesture, every moment. Even when Stan falls, Ben doesn't give up.

There is no melodrama in this story, no relationship angst. There's sweetness and humour (Ben's band mates are hilarious). But don't think this book is a light read because it's not.

My heart hurt for Stan, who has always struggled so hard to be accepted, whose own mother knew he was starving and didn't say a word. And it hurt for Ben, trying to keep it all together even as his world is falling apart.

When Stan buys Ben a black "rocker" bunny so Ben has something to hold when Stan's not there, I about cried. And that bunny comes round. At one point, Stan, who doesn't like to depend on anyone, needs the bunny more than Ben does.

I loved the secondary characters, especially Tone, Ben's friend and band mate who blurts out whatever's on his mind and whose wild beard and sloppy clothes belie a sensitive heart. Tone even gets into Stan's "yoga malarkey"; he's awesome like that.

The Impossible Boy ends with a lovely HEA, a HEA all the more believable because it's not sugarcoated.

We know Stan has a long road ahead of him (anorexia is a mental illness; it doesn't just go away). But now Stan isn't alone. He has a support system. He has Tone buying him chocolate. And he has an amazing boyfriend who would do anything for his princess, his imperfectly perfect boy.

Ben pressed a familiar black bunny into Stan's hand.

"I don't need him anymore . . . I can hold you tonight."

"And tomorrow," Stan said.

"And tomorrow."

Get the book:


In a good book the best is between the lines.
(Swedish Proverb)

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Download links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with the book, author, publisher, or website listed.

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