Author: Anna Martin
Release date: January 5, 2020
Length: 219 pages
Reviewed by Sammy
This is not your average love story.
Ben Easton is not your average romantic hero. He’s a tattooed, badass, guitarist in a band, working in a perfectly horrible dive bar in Camden Town. His life is good, and he’s totally unprepared for how one man will turn it upside down.
Stan isn’t your average heroine. As a gender-fluid man, he proudly wears his blond hair long, his heels sky-high, and his makeup perfectly executed. A fashion industry prodigy, Stan is in London after stints working in Italy and New York City, and he quickly falls for Ben’s devil-may-care attitude and the warm, soft heart Ben hides behind it.
Beneath the perfect, elegant exterior, Stan has plenty of scars from teenage battles with anorexia. And it only takes the slightest slip for his demons to rush back in while Ben is away touring with his band, Ares. With Ares on the brink of a breakthrough, Ben is forced to find a way to balance the opportunity of a lifetime with caring for his beautiful, impossible boyfriend.
Ben didn’t mind working two jobs but the guitar and his band, Ares, was where his real passion lay. He just knew that they could be good enough to make it someday if their crazy schedules ever intersected enough to help them break into the big time. Till then he tended bar and tutored students and managed to sleep—a little bit. When the striking beauty walked into the bar Ben nearly tripped over himself to serve him. Though definitely feminine in many ways, Stan was all boy and liked it that way. Being gender fluid fit how he felt inside and when he saw the gorgeous bartender’s eyes light up he knew that somehow he would like to get to know the guy. A phone number scrawled on a napkin and a few days later, Ben and Stan go on their first date and slowly from there they begin to explore each other and the growing feelings they have. But Stan’s past is one fraught with demons including his battle with anorexia. Will Ben still want him when he discovers just how messed up Stan’s head really is?
Anna Martin offers up a very brave look at a man who lives with the disease of anorexia and has come to terms with his gender-fluidity in the re-release of her novel, The Impossible Boy. Stan had toyed in the past with hormone therapy but realized two things—one that the weight increase the drugs would make him undergo would drive him back into the throes of an illness he is managing to keep in check, and, more importantly, he liked being a man sometimes. So with his beautiful long hair and makeup that allows him to feel feminine and in control, Stan decides each day just how feminine he will be. It really comes down to how he feels at any given moment and that’s the way he likes it—as does Ben.
Ben’s character not only accepts Stan’s style and fluidity but embraces it with love and support. Honestly this character could not have been nicer and his obvious care for Stan drives this story and shapes it into a beautiful romance that is lovely to read. Stan is so aware of how lucky he is to have found Ben and up until the band really begins to take off things seem good—Stan is super busy at his fashion job but still he and Ben find time for each other and life appears to be heading in the right direction for both of them. It’s when Ben must travel to gigs that the road becomes just a little less smooth and Stan slowly falls apart.
One of the things The Impossible Boy focuses on is the fact that like any other disease, anorexia is never really cured—rather the person afflicted with it learns how to manage it—control the urges to diet or simply stop eating altogether. The story then adds the layer of being a gender-fluid person which as we know is often difficult to be in today’s society. As Stan aptly explains he is not transgender and so doesn’t fit in the public’s scheme of “oh, you aren’t physically the sex you know you should have been born into? Well, then, we can fix you” mold. Instead he has more feminine days and less feminine days and Ben takes that all in stride and absolutely loves him for it. Add to that the battle with anorexia and you have an emotionally charged novel that grapples with some very big issues affecting so many in this world of ours.
The Impossible Boy is a beautiful romance, an ongoing battle to feel whole and in control and a fierce reminder that those who struggle with illness must take each day as it comes and accept the help of friends and loved ones if they are to make it through. I really look forward to the sequel to this book which will release later this month.
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