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Impossible Music

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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. 5 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 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. 5 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 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. 4 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.

  6. 4 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 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. 4 out of 5

    Sylvs (NOVELty)

    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 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. 4 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/...

  10. 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 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.*

  11. 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 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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 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.

  14. 4 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. 

  15. 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.

  16. 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 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)

  17. 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. :)

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Zemsky

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

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

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

  22. 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 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.

  23. 4 out of 5

    The Bookish Austin

    Review is here: https://thebookishaustin.tumblr.com/p...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Em The Reading Challenge Challenge

    “Silence as noise … I loved it as a concept, never for a moment imagining that one day I would grapple with it for real.” Simon Rain's entire life revolves around music - listening, playing, composing. But when a stroke damages the part of his brain that processes sound, he's left adrift in a noiseless world. Even with support from G, the spunky girl from his sign language classes, his family and the doctors and counsellors helping him adjust to his hearing loss, Simon doesn't know how to “Silence as noise … I loved it as a concept, never for a moment imagining that one day I would grapple with it for real.” Simon Rain's entire life revolves around music - listening, playing, composing. But when a stroke damages the part of his brain that processes sound, he's left adrift in a noiseless world. Even with support from G, the spunky girl from his sign language classes, his family and the doctors and counsellors helping him adjust to his hearing loss, Simon doesn't know how to embrace his new identity as a deaf person. But through a series of new music projects, he begins to discover that he doesn't have to give up on music, he just needs to find a new way to make it his own. This book was ... frustrating. As someone who is working very hard to move past their own internalised ableism, I found it annoying having to read about Simon rejecting all the support systems he had access to. I'm at the point in my life where I'm sick of reading about people overcoming ableism but I also recognise that there are a lot of people who would benefit from this story. Because that's what Simon's story is about - it's about overcoming his internalised ableism and embracing his deafness and how it affects his life. But Impossible Music does fail itself in other ways. It is really hard to write about music in an interesting way and I don't think Williams pulled it off. I got so sick of reading about Simon talking about his music projects and while the idea of him going to university to study music and composition was intriguing, I didn't care enough to slog through the endless pages about his application and folio and I skipped most of them. I was far more interested in his friendship with G. She was way more relatable and exciting but she gets pushed to the sidelines which sucked. G has tinnitus which has rendered her effectively deaf because she can't hear around the constant noise caused by her condition. And she was a roller derby girl! Why didn't we get more about that instead of yet another frustrating storyline about a character becoming disabled and then attempting suicide? While depression is common among disabled people, I'm getting sick of reading about it and there was no warning in the blurb that suicide would be a topic in the book. I also feel like the formatting of all the texting and Messenger conversations could’ve been thought out better. I had no idea who was talking most of the time and all the different fonts probably make it impossible for dyslexic people to read. I think it would’ve been much better to lay it out like a play script with the character’s name prefacing each comment. Considering most of the conversations Simon has are texted (because he refuses to learn sign language), this got especially taxing. I spent so much time trying to figure out who was talking that I had trouble absorbing the story which really detracted from the reading experience. In the end, I would've preferred a book extolling the awesomeness of the Deaf community but this is still an important story that a lot of people might find helpful. I just wish it had been more reader-friendly. Warnings: Internal and external ableism and references to a suicide attempt.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Unusual and thought-provoking, I found this book intriguing on several levels and it led me down some fascinating pathways that I find myself still pondering. What IS music? How is it experienced? Must you be a hearing person to experience music? can a hearing and non-hearing person experience it any of the same ways? Simon's whole life has been music and when a stroke takes his hearing, Simon's grief and rage consume him. Readers walk with Simon as he fights to hold onto the life he lead before Unusual and thought-provoking, I found this book intriguing on several levels and it led me down some fascinating pathways that I find myself still pondering. What IS music? How is it experienced? Must you be a hearing person to experience music? can a hearing and non-hearing person experience it any of the same ways? Simon's whole life has been music and when a stroke takes his hearing, Simon's grief and rage consume him. Readers walk with Simon as he fights to hold onto the life he lead before the loss of his hearing, resisting learning sign language, spurning the Deaf community. Before dropping out of sign language class, he meets and falls for a girl who has also recently lost her hearing to overwhelming tinnitus and their relationship is beautifully drawn. The story is absorbing but it is one that can't be rushed. In places it is a bit like taking a graduate class in music theory and I found myself having to put the book down and process the threads that explore the nature of music and how it can be experienced. I truly enjoyed this part of the book but it did slow the reading pace for me in a way that added to the overall experience. The emotional side of the story is compelling however and Simon's feelings of loss, helplessness and anger are wonderfully depicted. His journey toward recovery is central and provides the pacing and tension to propel readers through the more esoteric sections of the book. I truly enjoyed this book and am still pondering some of the questions raised. It will stay with me for a long time. I think this one qualifies for this "new adult" category and is best for young people in upper high school and college age or high schoolers with a serious interest in music theory.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lainy122

    This was an interesting read! It flowed between heartfelt despair and teenage rage at the injustice of the world, ticked past some lighthearted whimsy and flirty summer romance before swinging past slightly pretentious academia and settling on...didactic dialogue? Not gonna lie, the last dozen pages or so really didn't sit well with me. (view spoiler)[G's big speech and ultimatum made me really angry - she accused Simon of cheating on her with music, because he thought about it even when he was This was an interesting read! It flowed between heartfelt despair and teenage rage at the injustice of the world, ticked past some lighthearted whimsy and flirty summer romance before swinging past slightly pretentious academia and settling on...didactic dialogue? Not gonna lie, the last dozen pages or so really didn't sit well with me. (view spoiler)[G's big speech and ultimatum made me really angry - she accused Simon of cheating on her with music, because he thought about it even when he was with her? That kind of thought policing seemed ridiculous to me, especially for someone whose grief over losing the most beloved thing in his life was still very near. If Simon's relationship with music was indeed a 'bad girlfriend' as G so eloquently pointed out, they say to get over someone you need to mourn them for half as long as the relationship. Simon has loved music his whole life, but she expected him to be fine with losing it only what, 4 months in? I was also pissed that the queen of not coping was basically shoe-horning him into 'coping' better, when as Simon himself pointed out that there's no single way to deal with this. And although G completely agreed with him....she was still going to break up with him? For not dealing the way she wanted him to? If the fight had been about the email, totally on board with that (bad Simon, bad!), but because it escalated into this preachy sermon about COPING....yeah, nah. Not here for that. (hide spoiler)] Totally loved the rest of the book though, really enjoyed the thought provoking soul-wallowing poor Simon was having to go through. Had a bit of trouble with the time jumps initially because I was skimming the dates and got a bit confused, but caught up pretty quick :)

  27. 5 out of 5

    The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori)

    Full Review on The Candid Cover 3.5 Stars Impossible Music by Sean Williams is an original book about identity and loss. The plot is intriguing as it follows a musician who loses his hearing, and the main character is realistic. This is a great read for those looking for something more serious and meaningful. This book tells the story of a boy who suffers a stroke which leaves him deaf. However, music is his life, so how can he continue to pursue a career in this field if he is unable to hear his Full Review on The Candid Cover 3.5 Stars Impossible Music by Sean Williams is an original book about identity and loss. The plot is intriguing as it follows a musician who loses his hearing, and the main character is realistic. This is a great read for those looking for something more serious and meaningful. This book tells the story of a boy who suffers a stroke which leaves him deaf. However, music is his life, so how can he continue to pursue a career in this field if he is unable to hear his own work? I found this idea of a musician who loses his hearing interesting to read, as it has a lot of potential to provide insight and emotion. I do feel like the pacing and the ending left something to be desired, however. Even so, the descriptions of music and performance in the novel are very well written, almost poetic, and it is easy to feel the author’s passion. Ultimately, this is a heart-wrenching and thought-provoking book. ❀ COMPLEX CHARACTER Simon is a complex character, and it is enjoyable seeing the world through his eyes. What I especially liked is how believable he is, especially his reaction to his new hearing loss. Simon is quite an angry character and rejects any form of help that would help his adjust, including sign language class and therapy. This is natural, as listening and sound are significant aspects of his life. While his reaction is understandable, I would have liked to see more development as he overcomes this anger, which we don’t get to see much of. ❀ EMOTIONAL NOVEL Impossible Music is an emotional novel about a musician who loses his hearing. The concept and the main character are engaging, however I think the pacing and execution could have been better. This is still an interesting read for those with an interest in books about music.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Simon Rain lives for music. But when a stroke causes him to lose the ability to hear, he refuses to believe that music can no longer be a part of his life and starts looking for ways to compose music that is not intended to be heard. He steadfastly refuses to become involved with Deaf culture or the Deaf world, but when his path crosses with G, a rollerblading teen who suffers from tinnitus, he falls madly in love and wonders if they could have a future. But G has secrets and a self-destructive Simon Rain lives for music. But when a stroke causes him to lose the ability to hear, he refuses to believe that music can no longer be a part of his life and starts looking for ways to compose music that is not intended to be heard. He steadfastly refuses to become involved with Deaf culture or the Deaf world, but when his path crosses with G, a rollerblading teen who suffers from tinnitus, he falls madly in love and wonders if they could have a future. But G has secrets and a self-destructive side, and the romance screeches to a halt after Simon makes a mistake in using G's thoughts for one of his creative projects. Although this book from an Australian author was interesting enough and the idea of music that can't be heard or is silent was intriguing, it didn't hold my attention all the way through, and I ended up having to force myself to finish it. The time frame seemed odd to me, and it would surely take longer than a few months for someone to accept his condition as Simon did. That seemed unrealistic to me as did his ambitions to continue to become a composer. Although that might be unlikely, I did admire him for sticking to his guns. Ultimately, though, it was hard for me to like either Simon or G. In some ways I felt that I knew too much about them but also too little about them.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I really loved this story and I think it’s such an important look on what it means to lose your hearing and having a disability in a world which primarily caters to the able. This was such a captivating read and really thought provoking. I felt the author did an incredible job at showing the reality of the grief and difficulty at coming to terms with suddenly losing your hearing, especially on someone who wanted to become a musician. Whilst the grief was evident, this does also express hope I really loved this story and I think it’s such an important look on what it means to lose your hearing and having a disability in a world which primarily caters to the able. This was such a captivating read and really thought provoking. I felt the author did an incredible job at showing the reality of the grief and difficulty at coming to terms with suddenly losing your hearing, especially on someone who wanted to become a musician. Whilst the grief was evident, this does also express hope throughout showing what could now be possible and I thought this was really well done. I loved the constant addition of the deaf community and sign language throughout the story, this really opened my eyes to how life would be when you do wake up to find yourself deaf. The characters were also brilliantly developed and each had a different role to play in how Simon dealt with and came to terms with his situation. As someone who was always had a really strong passion for music, I really enjoyed the philosophical discussion around what makes music and sound, and how it can be interpreted by different people. Overall, this was a really amazing read on a topic which is seldom covered in YA and I’d definitely recommend it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I received this as an eARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Simon's entire life is music, until he has a stroke which takes away his hearing. How can Simon realize his musical dreams, if he can't hear!? The people in Simon's life push him to move on and accept his new life. Simon rejects the Auslan (Australia sign language) classes and can't believe that the counselors he is being sent to could ever understand what he is going through. Simon loses his girlfriend and band, I received this as an eARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Simon's entire life is music, until he has a stroke which takes away his hearing. How can Simon realize his musical dreams, if he can't hear!? The people in Simon's life push him to move on and accept his new life. Simon rejects the Auslan (Australia sign language) classes and can't believe that the counselors he is being sent to could ever understand what he is going through. Simon loses his girlfriend and band, folding in on himself, playing music loudly into his computer, which he will never hear. Simon is drawn to G, from his Auslan classes, who is also fighting her recent hearing loss. The two angry teens find comfort in each other and quickly fall in love. Even though Simon refuses to accept his new life, he may not be able to fight it for long. This was a heartrendingly real exploration of identity in the face of loss. The exploration of the deaf/Deaf Australian community was enlightening. Many of the characters in this novel were not likeable, but I became invested in their stories and wanted good things for them.

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