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Music is Simon’s life—which is why he is devastated when a stroke destroys his hearing. He resists attempts to help him adjust to his new state, refusing to be counselled, refusing to learn sign-language, refusing to have anything to do with Deaf culture. Refusing, that is, until he meets G, a tough-as-nails girl dealing with her own newly-experienced deafness.


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Music is Simon’s life—which is why he is devastated when a stroke destroys his hearing. He resists attempts to help him adjust to his new state, refusing to be counselled, refusing to learn sign-language, refusing to have anything to do with Deaf culture. Refusing, that is, until he meets G, a tough-as-nails girl dealing with her own newly-experienced deafness.

30 review for Impossible Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    I'm always hone in on books with disability rep because I feel it's way way underdone in YA! Impossible Music features a profoundly deaf teen. Simon is an ex-wannabe-rock-god who has a stroke and wakes up profoundly deaf (it's a very rare brain damage) and the story is basically him trying to reconcile his musician identity with being deaf. It's obviously very deeply about grief. He lost a huge part of himself and he's struggling...and you really really feel the depth and aching of that loss wit I'm always hone in on books with disability rep because I feel it's way way underdone in YA! Impossible Music features a profoundly deaf teen. Simon is an ex-wannabe-rock-god who has a stroke and wakes up profoundly deaf (it's a very rare brain damage) and the story is basically him trying to reconcile his musician identity with being deaf. It's obviously very deeply about grief. He lost a huge part of himself and he's struggling...and you really really feel the depth and aching of that loss with him. But what I appreciate? While Simon is rejecting his disability (refusing to learn sign language; doesn't want to be considered as deaf; etc etc) the story overall is about being empowered as a disabled person. I appreciate. I do admit the book did leave me staring fiercely at the pages trying to grasp everything that was said. I don't really know how to explain what fell apart for me? It was really...philosophical and psychological about the analysing of what means MEANS. Simon is writing "impossible music", aka music that has no sound. And look they went into detail about this but I still don't get it lol.The story also is basically told; not shown. Not my fave but a definite style, so this isn't a critique or anything. I just mesh better with immersive prose.  CHARACTERS: // SIMON = ok I loved this messed up struggling kid. He's drowning a bit, trying to deny his grief but also feed it with his refusal to face his deafness. His profound sense of loss and missing things (like just the sound of his guitar plugging into an amp) really hits him. He's grieving and trying not to be a bitter snark about it. I did love his arc! He grows a lot throughout the book. // G = also known as George-who-loves-coffee. Aka the LOVE INTEREST. She did feel a bit like a manic pixie dream girl (purple hair and orange lipstick and plays roller derby etc), but eh. I don't think she was ultimately. She had tinnitus, which I realised I did NOT understand before reading this. I learned a lot. She and Simon are a clashing hot mess together...but I did think they complimented each other.Also she tells him if he ever shows up to apologise to her and doesn't bring coffee -- hE CAN JUST LEAVE AGAIN. // SECONDARY CHARACTERS = um most of them were rather horrible to Simon lolol wow. His little sister is a total jerk and his mum is really berating him (lovingly?) for grieving. Like I get it. He needs to learn sign and accept himself. But idk I think Simon deserved space and they were all a bit aggressive at him to hurry up and deal. I'm always wary of discussing an author IN a review; because tbh, a book review is about the book. But I've seen lots of comments on Goodreads about how a hearing author has written an intensely personal story about coming to term with deafness, and I agree that's something to think about. I'm not deaf, but as someone with a disability, I do think the rep was done respectfully with love to Deaf culture. Also (from the author's note) there was Deaf people collabing and reading it too and the author actually took 3 years learning sign language too.So idk. I mention this because I don't think it's fair to dismiss a book for not being #ownvoices BUT at the same time, especially with stories that are about what it's like to be deaf but not by a deaf author, I do feel cautious. Overall this was a story of raw grief, of intense love and obsession with music, and of how your identity doesn't have to be lost if your life changes -- it can be reshaped to fit your journey. Simon was sad and a little jagged about the edges, but I really liked him! Some parts lost me (lol oops) but it was a very very interesting story.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher. Nope. Thumbs down. As a hearing impaired person, I am all for HOH/Deaf rep. I want it. I will read any and everything with a HOH/Deaf character in it. I will give pretty much anything the benefit of the doubt but most of the time, they stink. 1. This isn’t own voices. Which super bugs me because no matter how much research you do, or how many HOH/Deaf people you know ... you won’t ever get it right. 2.It focuses on a very, very rare form of hearing impa ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher. Nope. Thumbs down. As a hearing impaired person, I am all for HOH/Deaf rep. I want it. I will read any and everything with a HOH/Deaf character in it. I will give pretty much anything the benefit of the doubt but most of the time, they stink. 1. This isn’t own voices. Which super bugs me because no matter how much research you do, or how many HOH/Deaf people you know ... you won’t ever get it right. 2.It focuses on a very, very rare form of hearing impairment (He says he’s the 13th case in all of medical history ... bleh! This should have been framed around progressive hearing loss due to noise instead of the traumatic brain injury. It would have made this character more relatable to kids looking for representation.) 3. And G is TOTALLY painted as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (anger, purple hair, blue lipstick, and roller derby all included). This concept was so promising linking music and hearing impairment. It really could have had a moment and it could have been so amazing. Maybe what this really needed was a HOH/Deaf sensitivity reader? Idk. Teens may be interested in this because of the music-hearing loss link ... but that doesn’t mean it’s one that I really want to put into their hands.

  3. 5 out of 5

    McKayla Moors

    I have a lot of complicated feelings about this book. On the one hand, Williams's use of language is excellent. He crafts some beautiful poetry around the ideas of Deafness, loss, change, personal growth, anger, love, creativity, etc. Sometimes I would get lost in the words, words that sang off the page. On the other hand, the story was incredibly slow, and even though very little happened, it was difficult to follow. To start on that note, there was absolutely no reason for this story not to be I have a lot of complicated feelings about this book. On the one hand, Williams's use of language is excellent. He crafts some beautiful poetry around the ideas of Deafness, loss, change, personal growth, anger, love, creativity, etc. Sometimes I would get lost in the words, words that sang off the page. On the other hand, the story was incredibly slow, and even though very little happened, it was difficult to follow. To start on that note, there was absolutely no reason for this story not to be told in chronological order. Nothing was gained, no new insight given, by having each chapter told at a different point over a roughly four-month period. I was never, ever sure when anything was happening—each chapter was dated, but in small, easy-to-miss print, and even within a chapter the timeline would skip around a lot—and at some point I gave up trying to keep the events in order and just pretended that I was actually reading a straight timeline. It didn't make sense, but it was easier. I also did not understand the point of the romance between Simon and G. G, a slightly more complex take on the manic pixie dream girl, lacked all semblance of a personality (the "I'm not like other girls" JUMPED out), and I have no idea why Simon likes her, or why she likes Simon. Individually, their plots were fairly interesting (in fact, I think I would have rather heard all of G's story than all of Simon's), but together, I just...didn't care. And speaking of G, she and, frankly, everyone else in Simon's life were pretty dickish to him regarding his grieving process. Sure, Simon would eventually have to come to terms with his sudden total Deafness, a fact he acknowledges to himself several times throughout the book. But if I'm remembering correctly, this book covers only the first four months-ish after the day he wakes up Deaf. That is...not a lot of time. I'd probably be raged out for a year or so. It's a massive part of yourself to lose in an instant, especially when music is as critically important to your identity as it is to Simon. If the sudden, permanent loss that Simon had experienced was, say, the death of a loved one, I don't think his girlfriend, mom, sister, therapists, etc. would be expecting him to get over it so quickly and completely. Hearing/music was a loved one for Simon. I think he was making amazing, creative strides toward recovery throughout this book—not to be spoiler-y, but his Impossible Music series was genius, and, to me, a clear sign of someone trying to make something beautiful and connective out of a personal tragedy—and yet no one in his life would get off his fucking back. He needs better people in his life. (Other than his bandmates, who, to me, were the only good and useful people in the book.) If I could edit this book, I would cut out everything that wasn't directly related to Simon and his Impossible Music series. That was the source of Simon's character growth and development, and it was beautifully written. Everything related to Simon's deconstruction and understanding of his own Deafness was so lovely—I won't comment on whether or not Simon's feelings, opinions, ideas, descriptions, etc. of Deafness are accurate or representative of actual Deafness, because I am not Deaf (nor, I should mention, is the author)—and I just wanted to read that. I didn't care about his romance with G or his mom's judgement or his weird relationship with his dad or his therapy or anything else. It was pretty clear to me that the only thing really helping Simon move forward while still maintaining his identity was the music program and the Impossible Music project. I don't understand why everyone in his life shat on him for it, because it was the thing that was helping him heal. I would have easily read that and only that for 300 pages, because the rest of the book was slow and frankly irritating.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lea (drumsofautumn)

    So uh.. this was one of my biggest fears for a long time so this novel intrigues me so much BUT it has so much potential to be harmful and I think it's not ownvoices?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Utterly brilliant story of a young musician who experiences a rare form of hearing loss & his journey toward understanding the hand he has been dealt. A longer review will appear on my blog, Kathryn's Inbox in early July 2019. Utterly brilliant story of a young musician who experiences a rare form of hearing loss & his journey toward understanding the hand he has been dealt. A longer review will appear on my blog, Kathryn's Inbox in early July 2019.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    I was talking to some students at school about this book today, I told them the premise, that a young man who loves music, making it and performing it, loses his hearing overnight. He wakes up in the morning and is totally unable to hear. This book is about his adjustment and him trying to work around the tragedy that has befallen him. He goes to a group for young people, meets a girl who is also deaf and they begin to form a relationship. I could tell them no more. We agreed that this sounded j I was talking to some students at school about this book today, I told them the premise, that a young man who loves music, making it and performing it, loses his hearing overnight. He wakes up in the morning and is totally unable to hear. This book is about his adjustment and him trying to work around the tragedy that has befallen him. He goes to a group for young people, meets a girl who is also deaf and they begin to form a relationship. I could tell them no more. We agreed that this sounded just so good! Sadly, this is as far as I got in the story. I've been trying to get through it, but other books keep distracting me and I keep putting it aside. I've given it 2 stars, one is really for the potential. Such a great deal of that was in here. But it is like wading through thick mud. It really just needs to move more quickly and get on with it. When a YA book doesn't kick in soon enough, you've lost them. I'm going to hand this book over to one of my avid readers and see if they like it better than me. Because it really might be me and perhaps I'm not in the right place for it. Thanks to the publishers for a copy of this. I won it in a FB competition which was really thrilling as I thought it was going to be right up my alley.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sylvs (NOVELty Reads)

    Look, I just finished this and I still have NO idea what just happened. Everything just passed by my head and I barely can even recall the plot or anything. In fact, I was so lost that I thought Rain was another character instead of the main character's last name. Whatever you say I'm blaming the fact that the book starts in the middle of the story and I had to piece things together, something I don't necessarily enjoy doing. I thought this book would've been more about music but didn't expect t Look, I just finished this and I still have NO idea what just happened. Everything just passed by my head and I barely can even recall the plot or anything. In fact, I was so lost that I thought Rain was another character instead of the main character's last name. Whatever you say I'm blaming the fact that the book starts in the middle of the story and I had to piece things together, something I don't necessarily enjoy doing. I thought this book would've been more about music but didn't expect this to be more solely focused on deaf culture (which I have nothing against I just thought it'll be more music-y) Basically, Simon who I realised was the main characters name about 100+ pages in (whoops) is a wannabe musician hoping to study music in university until one day he suffers from a stroke that leaves him deaf. He eventually takes counselling sessions and Auslan (sign language) classes to help cope with his newfound deafness. But Simon refuses to accept his deafness hoping to still become a musician regardless. Even though I barely remembered anything even though I just finished it, I didn't mind Simon's character even though he was kind of described as irritable at the end. It was more G that I disliked and did not get their relationship. Maybe that's just me and maybe it was written before in the book but I somehow didn't pick up on it. I did find it to be a great book to read in terms of discovering Auslan and seeing a book so heavily representing sign language and hearing loss that I did enjoy it despite not being my genre necessarily. But all in all, I didn't stay focussed and the book didn't really excite me too much. It did make me want to learn Auslan though :D ACTUAL RATING: 2.6 STARS

  8. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    If music was your everything, what would you do if you suddenly went deaf? This is the question Sean Williams explores in his gritty, upfront novel, Impossible Music. Questions about family, relationships, facing the future and following your dreams, even when they seem impossible, are the focus of Impossible Music. With a realistic teen male narrator, this book is gripping and compelling.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle (TheYoungFolks.com)

    From TheYoungFolks.com's review by Leigh-Ann Brodber: For Simon, music is life. He’s the lead guitarist and vocalist in his band and life is looking good, until he wakes up and everything is eerily silent. Read more: https://www.theyoungfolks.com/review/... From TheYoungFolks.com's review by Leigh-Ann Brodber: For Simon, music is life. He’s the lead guitarist and vocalist in his band and life is looking good, until he wakes up and everything is eerily silent. Read more: https://www.theyoungfolks.com/review/...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    I haven't fully processed this book to give a full review but here are some thoughts I have for now: Impossible Music was able to get to the emotional side of me. I felt Simon's anger and pain. Waking up and not being able to hear would be devastating. His connection to music made this point come across well. The going back and forth between a couple of months at a time felt off putting. It just confused me and messed with my reading experience. The writing of Simon's emotions and his connection t I haven't fully processed this book to give a full review but here are some thoughts I have for now: Impossible Music was able to get to the emotional side of me. I felt Simon's anger and pain. Waking up and not being able to hear would be devastating. His connection to music made this point come across well. The going back and forth between a couple of months at a time felt off putting. It just confused me and messed with my reading experience. The writing of Simon's emotions and his connection to music was well done, however I felt like the writing was also holding me back from loving this book. Maybe it was because it was slow. I'm not sure. There was just something missing I can't put into words. I could understand why the way Simon became deaf would be disappointing because he isn't the typical deaf kid, however it illustrated his anger so much more of what losing his hearing meant to him. I didn't have a problem with that part of the story. I did end up liking this story. I think if the timeline wasn't chopped up or if it was faster paced I would have given this a higher rating.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Rooyen

    Okay - so first a caveat: I am aware and disappointed to discover this is not an ownvoices book. I thought for sure it must've been because it felt real, especially to me as a hearing musician very afraid of losing my ability to hear. For this reason, the book hit me right in the feels. However, I now know that this book has been written from the POV of a hearing person imagining what a recently Deaf person might feel so I'm not sure how genuine this journey would be for an actually Deaf person. Okay - so first a caveat: I am aware and disappointed to discover this is not an ownvoices book. I thought for sure it must've been because it felt real, especially to me as a hearing musician very afraid of losing my ability to hear. For this reason, the book hit me right in the feels. However, I now know that this book has been written from the POV of a hearing person imagining what a recently Deaf person might feel so I'm not sure how genuine this journey would be for an actually Deaf person. But this is definitely how I imagine I might feel were I in Simon's shoes. The audiobook sadly didn't include the acknowledgements section so I have no idea whether this received sensitivity reads or what sort of research the author did. I defer to Deaf and HoH readers where it comes to the rep on this. Deaf rep aside, this book felt like it was written for me. Simon is a metalhead, particularly into metalcore complete with music tattoos, band t-shirts, piercings, and long hair. The metal music he talks about in the book I know and mostly love. Then, he gets into Mahler - the 'metal' of classical music - and this guy just continues to speak my language! I literally squealed when he gets Mahler's score! Then, he gets into John Cage and well... I've just done a unit with one of my classes about John Cage where students were trying to answer What is Music? much like Simon does for the majority of this book. See why it feels like this book was written for me? So yeah - this book is ultra niche and I just got it. If you're not a music nerd simultaneously into obscure classical and hardcore metal music, then this book might not be for you. I was equally fascinated by Simon's exploration of how to create a musical experience accessible for both hearing and Deaf/HoH people. Again, another personal topic of interest - especially when he got into the synesthetic compositions of Scriabin and Rimsky-Korsakov. Honestly, this book just hit ALL the buttons for me and I found the chapters detailing his ideas for compositions and exhibitions exciting, philosophically and ideologically challenging, and some of the best parts in this book. Some readers will probably find these bits boring. And finally - the narrator. Up until this book, I have not been a fan of audiobooks mostly because I find it hard to stay awake to listen to them. Also because I find the voice acting more often irritating for one reason or another. Maybe it was because this was read by an Aussie, I just found the narration easy and enjoyable to listen to. David Linski really made the characters come to life for me and I had a hard time pressing pause! So TL;DR can't speak for the Deaf rep, but from a muso POV this book is excellent!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marti

    Read full review here: https://bookishtreats.wordpress.com/2... Music can be transmitted through words. Not just music, but noise as well. If you find the right words and put them together, you will be able to hear a horse galloping through the green, windy mountain. Flowers dancing at the beat of the wind, bees buzzing from one bloom to the next. It is a beautiful thing to hear sounds through words, using past experiences and imagination as primary sources. I didn’t know, or maybe didn’t pay at Read full review here: https://bookishtreats.wordpress.com/2... Music can be transmitted through words. Not just music, but noise as well. If you find the right words and put them together, you will be able to hear a horse galloping through the green, windy mountain. Flowers dancing at the beat of the wind, bees buzzing from one bloom to the next. It is a beautiful thing to hear sounds through words, using past experiences and imagination as primary sources. I didn’t know, or maybe didn’t pay attention until I read this book, how silence, so clear and present, can be heard in the same way. This book is full if sounds, but also filled with silence. A silence that sometimes is welcomed and others it makes it hard to breath. It is written so beautifully it gives the reader that feeling of utter, never-ending and complete silence. I found myself listening more intently to the chirping of birds, the leaves crunching under my feet, the wind moving my hair, and also the annoying sounds like airplanes passing or the noise the air conditioner makes. Everything around me became a sound, even the seconds on the clock. My own breathing, my own heartbeat. It was the weirdest feeling to open myself to these sounds. Like how you blink and breathe naturally without thinking about it, but then you keep thinking about it, cannot stop thinking about it and so you keep your eyes open until they burn and you challenge yourself to see how long you can hold your breath, just to fool yourself into thinking you can control it, until something else gets your instant attention and you forget while your body resumes doing your job for you. I yearn for books that help you see the world through a different light, and this was it for me. The topic has always been important to me, so much I know ASL a little bit, and this book was everything I hoped it would be and more. It is a beautifully painful story, written in a fantastic way and that in my opinion has relevance in the world we live in today. If you haven’t please read it. If you have, tell me what you think about it and don’t be afraid if we don’t agree! I’d love to hear from you anyways. *Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this wonderful book. All opinions are honest and my own.*

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lexi // libraryoflexi

    DNF page 130 (ish) It’s unfortunate but I just couldn’t get into it. Didn’t enjoy the characters. I picked it up because I really liked the idea but overall it just wasn’t for me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (Diva Booknerd)

    The last thing Simon Rain can remember hearing is the music blaring through his earphones as he fell asleep. That was nine months ago and after suffering from a stroke in the middle of the night while he slept, eighteen year old Simon hasn't heard a thing since. Coming to terms with his diagnosis has been a difficult journey for Simon. As a musician, music has been his life and an outlet to express himself creatively. Now angry and isolated, Simon refuses to learn Auslan, Australian Sign Languag The last thing Simon Rain can remember hearing is the music blaring through his earphones as he fell asleep. That was nine months ago and after suffering from a stroke in the middle of the night while he slept, eighteen year old Simon hasn't heard a thing since. Coming to terms with his diagnosis has been a difficult journey for Simon. As a musician, music has been his life and an outlet to express himself creatively. Now angry and isolated, Simon refuses to learn Auslan, Australian Sign Language and prefers to communicate through screens and text messages. Simon is profoundly deaf and after months of testing, doctors have determined his diagnosis as a rare form of sensorineural hearing loss, often caused by damage to the nerve that carries the signals to the brain or in Simon's case, a stroke. At a loss and grieving, Simon is determined to find new methods of creating music and being accepted into a prestigious university course. Music isn't only heard, it's felt and along with an abrupt, no nonsense music professor, devises a method to allow everyone to experience music. The musical aspect was fascinating, creating music as a sensory experience. Simon was so incredibly passionate about making his concept a reality, it consumed him and his determination was palpable. Unfortunately the technical aspects and musical terminology were lost on me, especially the emails Simon and the music professor exchanged. Simon attends doctors appointments, counselling and a program for hearing impaired students but refuses to participate, after all he's still grieving the loss of his hearing and no one seems to understand how isolating the loss of noise is. All except George. George or G as she's affectionately known was diagnosed with tinnitus after a secondary roller derby accident. G's mental health begins to deteriorate, her recently diagnosed tinnitus has worsened, leaving her with constant noise that no one else can hear. Simon and G begin to depend on one another as their relationship develops and although they seek solace in one another over their shared hearing impairment, they also enable one another. Communicating through text messaging while in each others company, neither using Auslan. I never really felt a sense of who G was aside from her illness. We see G through Simon's thoughts as the troubled, brooding love interest but apart from their diagnosis, seemingly have nothing in common. I would have preferred to have seen Simon and G as friends rather than the tentative romance. The main focus of the storyline is music and the many ways in which we listen. I found the concept fascinating and thought provoking but there was just so much theory and technical terminology. Simon seemed to be eighteen years old going on forty and his extensive knowledge of musical composition felt at odds with his character, even with the influence of his one hit wonder, music producer father. Despite the long passages of musical terminology, I enjoyed it. It was a little too clever at times and could have been far more engaging with less of the descriptive and more character development, especially concerning G. Despite not being an own voices novel, the deaf experience was so authentically written. The grief, the anger and the isolation of being a hearing impaired person in a world brimming with song, it was incredibly and intricately written.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Isaiah

    To read more reviews check out MI Book Reviews. I got an ARC of this book. I am not too sure how I feel about this book. It isn't the worst book I have ever read, but it is far from the best book. It feels like it is lacking some depth, but I can't say from where exactly. The characters are almost 3D. Instead they have a lot of emotions, but it was easy to pinpoint every reason and action before it happened. I wasn't left with a lot of mystery. Everything felt like it happened just so and it was a To read more reviews check out MI Book Reviews. I got an ARC of this book. I am not too sure how I feel about this book. It isn't the worst book I have ever read, but it is far from the best book. It feels like it is lacking some depth, but I can't say from where exactly. The characters are almost 3D. Instead they have a lot of emotions, but it was easy to pinpoint every reason and action before it happened. I wasn't left with a lot of mystery. Everything felt like it happened just so and it was a little like reading a textbook in the level of connection I was able to achieve with the characters. G is pretty much the manic pixie dream girl character, but the punk version. She is also not on page as much as I am used to from that trope. Instead the idea of her is present instead of her. Usually the manic pixie dream girl is my favorite character, but I didn't really know G because Simon really doesn't know her. The depth of emotion for Simon was just everything is angry. He experiences everything an anger. Great. I can get behind that. A lot of my emotions are anger at first until I actually figure things out. The issue is there is no feeling of resolution when Simon figures out what he really feels. At one point G tells him flat out what his emotions are, because he isn't figuring them out. There wasn't all that much growth. The growth there was felt forced and very much not the growth that would be expected for a novel like this.  I felt like the ending was just a let down. I don't know how to explain it, but everything about it just felt like it wasn't as big as Simon was making it out to be. It felt like there was just something missing. I can't put my finger on it.  Overall, the book was ok. It wasn't great and it wasn't bad. I was often bored and felt trapped in a cycle of anger and confusion, but not even that intense of anger or confusion. If the book was half the length and written in a lower reading level, I probably would have loved it. 

  16. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    This book was received as an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. This was such an inspiring story that it brought me to tears. The story behind Simon and G and how they are so musically talented suffering from this illness that costs them their gift of hearing and still strive for their dreams. This is a story that teaches adversity, hardship, struggle and perseverance that This book was received as an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. This was such an inspiring story that it brought me to tears. The story behind Simon and G and how they are so musically talented suffering from this illness that costs them their gift of hearing and still strive for their dreams. This is a story that teaches adversity, hardship, struggle and perseverance that everyone not just teens because it opens up a new world of the wonderful thing we call reality and instead of feeling sad and sorry, feel like you can still achieve your dreams and conquer the world. This title will definitely be considered for our YFiction collection at our library. That is why we are proud to give this book 5 stars.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kadi P

    If there was ever a reason for me to stop reading in 2020 it would’ve been because of this terrible book. It took me almost an ENTIRE MONTH to sludge through it! THIS WAS 320 PAGES OF MUSIC-FILLED OBSESSION. WHY AM I SHOUTING? BECAUSE I’M ANNOYED. This was DULL. There was hardly any depth to this book at ALL. The one recurring idea was that Simon couldn’t hear music but does that mean he couldn’t make music anymore? And then that question was repeated about 1 billion times. It was tedious. The mo If there was ever a reason for me to stop reading in 2020 it would’ve been because of this terrible book. It took me almost an ENTIRE MONTH to sludge through it! THIS WAS 320 PAGES OF MUSIC-FILLED OBSESSION. WHY AM I SHOUTING? BECAUSE I’M ANNOYED. This was DULL. There was hardly any depth to this book at ALL. The one recurring idea was that Simon couldn’t hear music but does that mean he couldn’t make music anymore? And then that question was repeated about 1 billion times. It was tedious. The most disappointing thing of all was that about 2 chapters from the end G points all of this out to Simon and then suddenly Simon decides he should change. If only that could’ve come earlier in the book! There was so much POTENTIAL here. G as a character was far more interesting than Simon. I honestly would’ve preferred for G to be the protagonist. She was dealing with a suicide attempt and tinnitus and so many other things going on in her head whereas all Simon could think about was music. I suppose what did I expect from a book called Impossible Music. But I didn’t realise that Simon was going to spend every single page talking about music. There are only so many musical metaphors you can use before it starts to sound repetitive. On the one hand, I do have to hand it to Sean Williams in the sense that he did write about some very interesting concepts regarding music. I’ll be honest, I didn’t understand really any of them, I think they’re more like things you have to experience to understand. Yet for as good as they were, it seemed like the concepts Simon explored throughout the book were pointless in the end. Simon never got to be in charge of the pieces he created, his ideas were taken and changed slightly, one of them didn’t even make it into the concert, and really about 3 pages of the book were spent on the concert at the end even though the entire book was leading up to it. Talk about an anticlimactic ending! What this book really lacked was some kind of balance. Simon was so obsessed with music that he only went to a few Auslan (sign language) classes yet somehow about 60% into the book he can understand multiple whole sentences. How is that even possible? It doesn’t seem to make any sense but ok. This was a disappointing read and I’m proud of myself for finishing it because it was hard to stay motivated to continue reading something that dragged on for this long.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bradley (AudioShelf)

    Impossible Music is about a young man, Simon Rain, who suffers a stroke and ultimately loses his hearing. This causes Simon to experience this self-loathing when it comes to being deaf—he resists therapy, learning Australian Sign Language called Auslan, and even different treatments that are suggested for his deafness. His #1 passion in life is music and the book follows his journey in discovering that music is a universal language that all people can related to—even HOH/Deaf culture. He realize Impossible Music is about a young man, Simon Rain, who suffers a stroke and ultimately loses his hearing. This causes Simon to experience this self-loathing when it comes to being deaf—he resists therapy, learning Australian Sign Language called Auslan, and even different treatments that are suggested for his deafness. His #1 passion in life is music and the book follows his journey in discovering that music is a universal language that all people can related to—even HOH/Deaf culture. He realizes that music doesn’t need sound to be enjoyed. During this book, he also falls in love with G, a “manic” rocker chick that deals with tinnitus, as well as suicidal ideation. Pros: I really enjoyed the way the novel was laid out. I liked reading the italics and the different fonts that represented communication done by writing notes. When quotes were used, it was only when Simon was speaking out loud. I thought this was a nice touch. Another positive is that the author does a really good job at using language to tell this complicated story. He is able to describe terminology and signs in a way that’s not too distracting. Finally, another positive is that it’s representative of the HOH/Deaf community. Cons: Even thought his is representative, it’s not Own Voices, so I’m sure most of this research is just that. Research. Not real life experience. I would have liked to see more emotion behind the writing (or within the story), rather than it being a giant info dump. Another negative was that I did not like the timeline in the book. I felt like the dates were unnecessary because 1. Everyone seemed to think Simon should just get over his deafness 4 months after his stroke. And 2. I felt like time was thrown around throughout the chapters, so the chapter headings with the dates were so confusing. And finally, I felt like nothing actually happened in this book to warrant 300 pages. All the story included was Simon dealing with being deaf, finding a girl to “save” and love, and then writing to someone about his proposed musical event. Overall, I would have given this book a 2.5, but I was being generous because I did find the story and the idea fascinating and the prose was decently written, kept my interest for more than 51% of the time. The other 49% I was slightly bored. Thanks to HMH Teen for giving us a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I received this e-ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I found myself enjoying this book far more than I expected to as someone who rarely picks up contemporary novels and knows next to nothing about how music is actually made. I thought the premise of Impossible Music sounded interesting and relatively unique, and I feel I was proven right in those respects. I have already seen many reviews criticizing Impossible Music for not being an Own Voices story, but I thin I received this e-ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I found myself enjoying this book far more than I expected to as someone who rarely picks up contemporary novels and knows next to nothing about how music is actually made. I thought the premise of Impossible Music sounded interesting and relatively unique, and I feel I was proven right in those respects. I have already seen many reviews criticizing Impossible Music for not being an Own Voices story, but I think it would be a shame for anyone to choose that as a reason not to read this book. The author has an extensive note explaining the many years of research he did on Auslan, Deaf culture, and hearing loss journeys. (He also explained the many ways in which parts of this novel are rather autobiographical for him, a detail that did not escape me as I read.) Simon's journey was relateable and I never felt like any information was being force fed to be, instead developing organically on the page as Simon discovered it for himself. The negatives here come down to what I think of as cosmetic changes. I thought the structure of having the plot told out of order was clunky at best and confusing and difficult to connect with at worst. And George-Who-Loves-Coffee came off as a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl... a trope I am utterly tired of. But I learned so much about being deaf and about music that I almost didn't care about the negatives. Simon's compositions and performances were fascinating to me, and I am sure I'm going to fall down a YouTube rabbit hole with all of the recommendations the author left in his acknowledgements. Trigger warning for (sometimes extensive) talk of suicide. Also one use of the r-word... which I found baffling. It wasn't used in a derogatory way, but it still seemed like a better word could have been used instead. My Rating Breakdown Characters: 3.5 Atmosphere: 3.5 Writing Style: 3 Plot: 3 Intrigue: 4 Logic: 4.5 Enjoyment: 3.5 Overall Rating: 3.57 (for full details on this rating system see: my blog post)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Greg Rumpff

    So it would appear that this book touched a nerve. As many argue that the purpose of art is to both provoke thought (and just provoke), it would appear to have succeeded. My perspective as someone from the hearing community: 1) I empathized HUGELY with Simon. As someone who spends insane amounts of time listening to, dissecting, analyzing and trying to dance to architecture (if you don't know what that means, Google "Frank Zappa dancing to architecture"), loss of my hearing would be a nightmare. I So it would appear that this book touched a nerve. As many argue that the purpose of art is to both provoke thought (and just provoke), it would appear to have succeeded. My perspective as someone from the hearing community: 1) I empathized HUGELY with Simon. As someone who spends insane amounts of time listening to, dissecting, analyzing and trying to dance to architecture (if you don't know what that means, Google "Frank Zappa dancing to architecture"), loss of my hearing would be a nightmare. I couldn't begin to imagine life without it. 2) Williams managed to get me to, if not agree on their musicality, to at least better understand the genres of musique concréte, hardcore and avant-garde classical music and for that he is to be commended. 3) As others have pointed out the theme of the book ends up being less about "music" per se (at least as most of us understand that term) and instead about the concept of the self i.e. what makes you "you". As a fan of the TV series THE GOOD PLACE I glommed onto that happily. Is rock god Simon not "himself" once he can no longer hear the music he creates? This book takes us on that journey. 4) G makes for a likable, interesting, and non saccharine love interest. I had no idea that tinnitus is continual cacophony. I had always thought, mistakenly, that it was a vacuum of sound punctuated with occasional shrill "whistling" tones but the reality appears far more maddening. 5) Yes, the author wrote about what he doesn't "know" meaning Williams is not himself Deaf. But he took me into Simon's and George-who-likes-coffee's worlds and I really pondered, beyond some vagaries attached to watching SWITCHED AT BIRTH, all that losing my hearing would entail in negative and positive terms. Do we really want to live in a world where you cannot write about what you have not directly experienced? This would do away with The Handmaid's Tale and Roots off the top of my head. It does feel like the author took pains to understand, as best as someone who doesn't have the disability can, what it means. 6) I learned how to "say" thanks in Auslan. If I ever run across a deaf Aussie here in the U.S., I'm ready. :)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kasey Giard

    The concept of IMPOSSIBLE MUSIC totally hooked me. I love books about angsty musicians, so I knew I’d like Simon. I like fierce female characters, so I suspected I’d like G and Simon’s little sister, Maeve, also stole my heart. She’s strong and sometimes pushy, but you really get the sense that underneath that is a lot of love for her family. In terms of the plot, this must have been a tough book to write. I felt like it dragged sometimes, but I don’t think that actually had to do with the pacing The concept of IMPOSSIBLE MUSIC totally hooked me. I love books about angsty musicians, so I knew I’d like Simon. I like fierce female characters, so I suspected I’d like G and Simon’s little sister, Maeve, also stole my heart. She’s strong and sometimes pushy, but you really get the sense that underneath that is a lot of love for her family. In terms of the plot, this must have been a tough book to write. I felt like it dragged sometimes, but I don’t think that actually had to do with the pacing of the plot. I think it had more to do with the stakes. Simon’s goal is to find a way to celebrate/study/participate in music as a young deaf man. If he fails, he’ll be very sad. It’s not that that isn’t compelling. But I didn’t feel like the stakes ratcheted up as the story progressed. I like the way the story braids together Simon’s love for music and his love for G. In lots of ways her emotional journey seems to be a mirror of his, sometimes revealing things to Simon that he wasn’t ready to face about himself. But she also calls him out on things he’s not ready to face, too. They make a good pair. Readers who liked THE SCAR BOYS by Len Vlahos will like the gritty, emotional writing and the “diary of a band boy” style of the story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Madden

    Ever since I heard about this book when it was first released last year, I wanted to read it. I was happy when I finally had the chance to read it and loved it. I was a little disappointed when I got to the end, not wanting the story to end.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Erik Fazekas

    DNF at 30% I didn’t feel anythimg reading it. Just words with no feelings in it, thus no connection with character. Such a great opportunity that got lost.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Zemsky

    I think a theme is to never let the darkness take you.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alisha Brook

    4 stars

  26. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher after attending a webinar on the Young Adult books that publishers were excited about for 2019. We are reading and discussing this novel for the Young Adult book club that I belong to. Simon Rain, an eighteen year old Australian teen, is preparing to enter university to study music. However, when he wakes up one morning, completely deaf after suffering a stroke, his world is rocked in unimaginable ways. "Impossible Music" is his story of coming to I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher after attending a webinar on the Young Adult books that publishers were excited about for 2019. We are reading and discussing this novel for the Young Adult book club that I belong to. Simon Rain, an eighteen year old Australian teen, is preparing to enter university to study music. However, when he wakes up one morning, completely deaf after suffering a stroke, his world is rocked in unimaginable ways. "Impossible Music" is his story of coming to terms with how his deafness will change his world. Takeaways: 1. I appreciate this rare look into what it might means to be deaf. Though the author is not deaf, nor am I, I felt that Sean Williams did thorough research in his writing of the book ,and did a nice job of getting into the head of a teen who suffers sudden deafness. And I recognize that this is ONE story, not the story of EVERY deaf individual. Only a dozen or so cases of "cortical deafness" are known to have occurred in the world. Some reviewers complained that this was not an "ownvoices" book but I believe fundamentally, as Oprah does, "...in the right of anyone to use their imagination and their skills to tell stories and to empathize with another story, to write, to act, to sing..." I learned a lot that I didn't know before reading this book - the meaning of "deaf voice," the difference between signing and gestures, "Auslan," "deaf hearing," "deaf perception," "deafness"/"deaf" versus "deafhood," and "people of the eye." - "It's weird because we're used to hearing the sound of our voices conducted from our voiceboxes to our ears via the bones of our skull and jaw. That's why we sound so bassy and warm. We all have this overinflated sense of how good we sound, because we never hear ourselves right." (p. 61) - "If I'm understanding his argument, Deafhood is a process or a journey, a thing you're being - unlike deafness, the noun or deaf, the adjective, both of which are defined by the static fact of not hearing. Deafhood aims to capture what it's like to be deaf beyond simple hearing loss, emphasizing what's good about it." (p. 256) - "...I have to look at her. To look at her is to see her, the real her, just as she sees me signing in return, feeling every word." (p. 277) - "You don't have to cut out everything you love to make room for deafness." (p. 283) - "Deafness isn't a cross to bear: it's a story." (p. 297) 2. This is a character-driven story. It is heady and deeply philosophical. Therefore, it will appeal to a small group of teens. Those with a deep interest in music? Perhaps those from the deaf community, who rarely see themselves portrayed in literature? Those who enjoy slow-moving, intense novels focused on character, rather than action? 3. Simon's character arc is really interesting and believable. He struggles with being caught between two worlds, the deaf world and the hearing world. And he feels powerless in either world, at least for awhile, until he acknowledges that he is deaf and this will be permanent, his new world. Once he acknowledges this, he no longer has to battle the two. His mom has a nice conversation with him about this (p. 246-7), and G has a not so nice conversation with him about this in the novel's climax. It is a really good example of William Bridge's model of TRANSITION - "...from the beginning of the end to the end of the beginning. From deafness to Deafhood - and the new version of me I'm still getting to know." (p. 297) The symbolism of the haircut is significant. - "Halfway. The problem isn't that I've lost music. The problem isn't even that I've lost my hearing. What's killing me is that I've lost my sense of certainty. Once, I knew what I was, who I was, and where I fit in. Then I lost my hearing, and all the stuff that went with it." (p. 288) - I can't think of anything that would demonstrate what it means to suddenly be deaf more than taking the ability to hear from someone who so passionate about music. - " Maybe it's something I can actually have - a future defined not by irrational demands that all things remain the same, but by the promise of change. Even if that change means new relationships with the world...possible music..." (p. 290) 4. Fluency was really an issue for me. I kept wondering if this had to do with the fact that the author is Australian and the differences in the rhythm and cadence of the spoken word in Australia as compared to the U.S. I had to go back and reread some passages several times to "get" what the author was trying to communicate. Some of this could have been mitigated with some good editing. And some may just have to do with the fact that Williams explores some pretty deep ideas about deafness, music, and relationships. 5. Combined with the fluency in wording, the fluency of the plot progression was difficult to follow, as Williams shifts back and forth in time. The chapters do indicate dates, but one had to actually take notice of the dates and mentally shift back and forth as a chapter began. Williams also shifted back and forth in time within chapters, which was also jarring. Most importantly, it didn't add anything to the story, didn't seem necessary, to switch back and forth in time. 6. The relationship between Simon and G is hard to believe. She bugged the crap out of me. What could he possible see in her that would make him stick around? She disappears from his life for weeks at a time and does not communicate with him. When she is around, she is not very ice, cruel in fact. And she takes it upon herself to teach Simon some really tough lessons that perhaps might be more palatable coming from an adult. Granted, though she suffers from a different disorder than Simon, tinnitus, one can understand why this "disturbance" would make her life completely miserable. But surely she could have more redeeming qualities. And she is kind of the stereotypical "manic pixie dream girl." Been there. Done that. Also, do parents really allow their teens who are involved in romantic relationships to spend the night together in each others' homes? I get that they may already be having sex, but encouraging it by allowing them to sleep together? Oh, and Simon's "friends," Roo and Sad Alan, are not much better than G. 7. Though music is theme found in many more books that deafness is, I still learned a lot about what music and sound are. I thought about and considered things that I have never thought about or considered before. Thus, "Impossible Music" expanded my world view, and I appreciated this. - "There is no such thing as an unmusical sound..." (p. 21) - "noise music" and John Cage and silence as noise (p. 22) - I even looked up his work on YouTube. which was so interesting! - "The shows I go to are so loud you can feel the sound hitting you like a physical force - which is exactly what sound is, on a molecular level. Pressure waves expand and compress across our bodies, and inside our bodies too if the noise is big enough." (p. 30) - "Tinnitus isn't deafness per se: instead of the ears' wiring not working, the wiring detects sounds where there are none. Phantom noises, like phantom limbs, can be irritating, even frightening - and they can drown out all other sounds if they're loud enough, making someone effectively deaf...but could those noises be musical?" - "Maybe, I thought, silence doesn't have to be so empty after all." (p. 41) - "So maybe the only musical experience a composer could create that can be shared equally by everyone...hearing and non-hearing alike...is one that's impossible to hear." (p.47) - "Loving music and being a musician are two very different things, as different as loving a sport and playing it." (p. 63) - "If I remain committed to my earlier proposition, that there's no such thing as an unmusical sound, then maybe there's no such thing as an unmusical musician, either. Anyone can pick up a violin and make the most godawful noise, and it counts. It must or my thesis unravels." (p. 63) - "Music is at heart a collaboration between composer, performer, and audience." (p. 74) - isn't this true of any form of art? - "Music is not a thing you're doing. It's a process, a thing you're being." (p. 74) - "English has silent letters. They're inaudible, but if you take them out of a word, the whole meaning is changed...I realized for the first time how important silences are in music, too. So much of the score was silent, for one instrument or another. If they all sounded at once, it would be chaos." (p.92) - "Music that hides its message is the best kind." (p. 119) - "If every sound is musical, then every word has meaning, even if it's not the one intended." (p. 124) - "No musical experience is identical to any other, even if you're listening to the same song on repeat." (pp. 124 -5) - "Music is such an intrinsic part of celebration..." (p. 251) - "Music transforms, yes, but tonight music - the very idea of music - is itself transformed, as it has been transformed for me." (pp. 300 - 1) 8. I appreciated some of the new, even profound, thematic elements of the story. - "The sound of my voice seemed to shut them up, as though they'd forgotten I was there - written me off as deaf, disabled, absent, gone. Nonparticipant in the conversation and therefore nonparticipant in life. Reminding them that I existed silenced them for real." (p. 23) - "Someone had been through this kind of pain before me. I wasn't alone." (p. 40) - "Listen with your eyes, my first counselor told me once." (p. 44) - "Something about art being defined by the audience, not the artist. Maybe? (p. 45) - YES! - "Turns out when gripped with uncertainty, you need words more than ever. Touch, taste, smell, and sight are all great, but I hadn't learned yet how to properly manage them alone." (p. 54) - "Working out when to give up, he says, that's the hard thing." (p. 57) - "Show me a person capable of nobility in the face of rejection and I'll show you someone who secretly wanted out anyway." (p. 72) - "When no one hears, perhaps it's not simply that no one listens, but that some signs are too silent to be understood, even for those trying with all their might." (p. 93) - "Reality is unremitting." (p. 187) - "...no one made money from the arts unless they were extraordinarily lucky...On the other hand, what was money, really?" (p. 196) - "You were born a healthy white male, Simon. You've grown up in a bubble of privilege. Now the bubble has popped, and you're living in the world most people inhabit. People of color, for instance, or genderqueer, adoptees..." (p. 198) - "Our world has forgotten the power of rituals to help us transition through difficult phases in life." (p. 198) - "When things break down, it's not always possible to put them back together." (p. 269) - "Sharing only leads to losing what little we have left." (p. 271) - "What seems impossible alone is often, together, merely improbable." (p. 299) 9. I loved the bits of political commentary as well! Like, "You could've landed on a patch of leprosy, or woken up in the year three million, when everyone is descended from Donald Trump, or -" (p. 221) - So true! How is that for putting everything in perspective? This one was just so-so for me. I am not sure that I would have stick with it had I not been reading it for book club.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    This book SO GETS what it's like to acquire a disability. I'm impressed!!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    This was my first audio book. The irony is that it is about deafness. A moving story that investigates many feelings. I find the characters very interesting and pleasantly unpredictable. Deep subject matter and an interesting story put together beautifully and eloquently, coming from a 17 year old guitar thrasher who suddenly became deaf.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    The fact that this was a hearing writer doing a whole book about how deafness/hearing loss is terrible and messes up a life (even if Simon does eventually come to terms with things and isn't entirely derailed from his plans) bothered me, but even leaving that aside I felt like the book was more about being interested in music/performance theory than it was about telling a story. So much more time and effort was put into describing the Impossible Music presentations than in developing the charact The fact that this was a hearing writer doing a whole book about how deafness/hearing loss is terrible and messes up a life (even if Simon does eventually come to terms with things and isn't entirely derailed from his plans) bothered me, but even leaving that aside I felt like the book was more about being interested in music/performance theory than it was about telling a story. So much more time and effort was put into describing the Impossible Music presentations than in developing the characters - Roo and Sad Alan were practically the same person, Maeve was an extremely typical "annoying but secretly wise" younger sister character, and I didn't feel like there was much there there in Simon's relationship with G.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emma L.

    Woaw this book sounds like my biggest fear is coming true. As someone who loves music, hates silence, and almost always has music on (but I still can't carry a tune even if my life's depends on it. I'm like music lovers and people who play music biggest nightmare because how terrible my rhythm is) so yeah becoming deaf and having to life without music would be a nightmare for me. This book has me intrigued and terrified at the same time.

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