By Lydia Kang
**publication date 18 Sept 2018**
At first I thought this book might be some sort of fan fiction – Impossible Girl and a person with two hearts, as a Doctor Who fan would think – as I’ve never read anything by Lydia Kang. All that has changed now, though. The Impossible Girl is a story about a medical improbability. Cora/Jacob is a girl who supposedly has two hearts. A medical anomaly that must be hidden at all cost to save Cora’s life.
Set in the 1800s when grave robbing was a real and lucrative profession, Cora has been raised knowing there would be a price on her head if anyone knew the truth about her. The novel begins at Cora’s birth and let’s us on that Cora will be raised as Jacob for as long as possible. We pick up later in the story when Cora and Jacob are now “siblings” in Manhattan.
I was mesmerized by this book. Lydia Kang has a real gift for scooping up your attention and holding it captive. Being a practicing doctor, there is an element of realism to all the gory and gooey details of grave robbing and 19th century medicine. You can definitely tell that she’s done her homework. While a bit crazy to think that Cora can get away with pretending to be a man of slight stature, I never had a doubt that Jacob was able to pull it off.
There were twists that were unexpected as well. A little bit of romance and a lot of terror for Cora. Good people going bad and bad people who were still unsavory but not villains. The details of the gritty, grimy world versus the upper echelon of Manhattan at this time were vivid. A patois known as “flash” is used quite liberally in the book, with translations. This apparently was the language of the criminals back in the day. It’s much easier to believe that Jacob is one of the crowd because of his ability to speak this dialect of the corrupt.
The Impossible Girl is a fun and fascinating read that I would strongly recommend. Having enjoyed this book so much, I intend to add all Kang’s books (including the YA novels) to my “want to read” list.