Book Review: All The Impossible Things

Book Review: All The Impossible Things

All The Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey Book Cover
Written by Written by Heather Sowers, LCSW-C, Former C.A.S.E. Adoption-Competent Therapist
Published on: Feb 05, 2024
Category Book Reviews

Book Summary

Ruby aka “Red,” the main character of this book, comes into foster care after her beloved grandmother dies of cancer. Red is desperate for her mother, Wanda, soon to be released from jail, to meet the court’s expectations so she can finally get out of the system. We meet Red as her case worker is taking her to yet another foster care placement, with Jackson and Celine and their Groovy Petting Zoo and an energetic neighbor kid eager to become friends with her.

Tuck Everlasting, an Aldabra giant tortoise, is just one of many quirky surprises in the moving novel All the Impossible Things. Given the emotional depth and relatability of all the characters (both human and animal), I couldn’t believe this is Lindsay Lackey’s first book. On her website, the author shares that her aunt and uncle became foster and then adoptive parents as empty nesters and their experience inspired this novel. Is there a happy ending? Yes and no. Does it have a totally awesome therapy turtle? YES!

Image of Tuck Everlasting Turtle, a character in All the Impossible Things

“Grief changes us. It can turn us into something we don’t recognize. But this –” She gestured toward the sky. ” The music reminds me I’m loved. It brings me into life.” ― Lindsay Lackey, All the Impossible Things

“Grief isn’t like anger. Anger can burn out. It can be released. But grief is something that becomes a part of you. And you either grow comfortable with it and learn how to live your life in a new way, or you get stuck in it, and it destroys you.” ― Lindsay Lackey, All the Impossible Things

Who is this book for?

Everyone! Glimpses into Red’s mind and heart as she experiences difficult moments communicating with her foster family can really help foster/adopt parents, teachers, case workers and therapists put themselves in the shoes of an almost twelve-year-old kid who’s been in numerous out of home placements. Even though she’s a middle schooler, the real life struggles Red deals with will resonate with adult and high school readers as well.

This book tackles the difficult issues of grief, loss, death, abandonment and drug addiction head on, with no apologies.

Adoption Competent Therapist Honest Review

The truth is, many of the children and teens C.A.S.E. serves have even harder stories than Red’s. Reading this book could help adoptive parents to face the often painful truths of their own child’s story. It is common for parents to need support from their therapist to understand and process the feelings that come up regarding the trauma their adopted child experienced.

For example, many of the difficult moments in her past that get triggered in the present happened when Red was in elementary school or even younger.

Early on in the story we learn that Red has a seemingly magical ability to create wind when she’s upset, as does her mother. Adults discussing this book with kids and teens can be curious about these moments – “Have you ever felt so angry it seemed like you could knock a tree down with your rage? Have you ever had a special moment in nature that felt really special or comforting to you?”

I will admit, Jackson and Celine set a standard of empathy and patience that might seem too high for most adoptive parents or foster caregivers to meet. While there is at least one scene where Jackson apologizes to Red for a mistake he perceived making, I would have appreciated seeing a few human moments were one of them just reacts in an interaction with Red. It’s helpful for all families, adoptive or otherwise, to see examples of parents making mistakes, taking ownership and repairing the relationship with their child.

Any adult working with or adopting children who have experienced trauma must find the courage to stretch their own heart. We have to stretch our hearts enough to put ourselves in the shoes of a four-year-old feeding their baby sibling or an eight-year-old finding a parent who’s overdosed. This book can help you stretch your heart, especially in terms of understanding how and why kids desperately hold on to the hope of reuniting with a birth parent.

I encourage parents who have adopted older children to read this book first and then read it with or to your child. There are countless moments in the book that may resonate with your child’s story and provide an opening to a deeper therapeutic dialogue either around the dinner table or in family therapy.



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