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Blog Tour Review: All That Impossible Space by Anna Morgan

on June 24, 2019

All That Impossible Space 
Anna Morgan
Hachette AUS
2019, 276p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Amelia Westlake meets My Favorite Murder in this debut from a terrific new voice in Australian YA. Combines a realistic story about high school drama and toxic friendship with true crime – the endlessly fascinating Somerton Man or Taman Shud mystery. 

15-year-old Lara Laylor feels like supporting character in her own life. She’s Ashley’s best friend, she’s Hannah’s sister-she’s never just Lara.

When new history teacher Mr. Grant gives her an unusual assignment: investigating the mystery of the Somerton Man. Found dead in on an Adelaide beach in 1948, a half-smoked cigarette still in his mouth and the labels cut out of his clothes, the Somerton Man has intrigued people for years. Was he a spy? A criminal? Year 10 has plenty of mysteries of its own: boys, drama queen friends, and enigmatic new students. When they seem just as unsolvable as a 60-year-old cold case, Lara finds herself spending more and more time on the assignment. But Mr Grant himself may be the biggest mystery of all…

Interspersed with fictionalised snapshots of the Somerton Man investigation, ALL THAT IMPOSSIBLE SPACE is a coming of age novel exploring toxic friendships and the balance of power between teacher and student, perfect for fans of Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood.

This book took me back!

High school is far behind me now but it’s amazing how things can transport you back in time and everything feels as though it is still happening. When I was in high school, I had a friend very much like Lara’s friend Ashley. A girl who, when she was happy, was the best sort of friend to have around. We had a huge amount of fun, we were super close and spent all our time together. But she was also the sort of friend that would, on occasion, build herself up by tearing others down. By making people feel awkward or inferior. There could be silent treatment as well, for slights or even perceived slights. It was a volatile friendship, finally dying a death in grade 12 when I removed myself voluntarily from her circle. I learned a lot from that friendship because it was full of ups and downs. Sometimes I still look back on it as some of the better times in my teen years but it was also responsible for some of my most miserable times in my teen years as well. It was by forming other close friendships and nurturing those that I was able to recognise that it was time to move on and this is something that I think Lara experiences here too.

Lara and Ashley have always been a pair, with Ashley the more dominant friend. The arrival of Kate, who befriends Lara, upsets the delicate balance. With Kate, it seems as though Lara can more be herself, rather than reshaping herself the way she does around Ashley. Lara is a bit of a follower – Ashley wants to do the school musical with the local boys school and so Lara must try out as well, even though the rehearsals clash with Lara’s preferred activity of running/cross country. Lara has a few things in her life putting her off balance I think – the disappearance of her older sister Hannah overseas on a gap year, who keeps contact determinedly one sided, the arrival of a new history teacher, Mr Grant and the assignment he gives Lara investigating the death of the Somerton Man, one of Australia’s greatest unsolved mysteries. And then there’s Jos, from the boys school who is also taking part in the play their two schools are putting on together.

Going to out myself here and say I didn’t know much about the Somerton Man case before this, I’m not really sure how. I didn’t do much history at school and every now and then I’m really reminded of that when I come across something that I should know about, but don’t. I did a bit of reading whilst completing this book and after as well. The Somerton Man was found dead on a South Australian beach and his identity or what happened to him, has never been truly answered. There are some theories, revolving around the possibility of spies and the Cold War but the fact that he had no identification, the labels were removed from his clothing, there was a likelihood that he was perhaps poisoned, all served up a big mystery that has never come to a satisfying conclusion. Lara is given the task of investigating it, to come up with theories and possibilities for the Somerton Man, which leads to some extra attention from her teacher.

I really enjoyed a lot about this, the portrayal of high school and the navigation of friendships, particularly a toxic one and those early overtures into a relationship were spot on for me. I really liked Lara as a character and thought she was well written. Her relationship with her absent sister forms a big part of the novel – Lara is very much in Hannah’s shadow, always feels like she’s just “Hannah’s sister” rather than her own person, her teachers and school authority figures don’t seem to see her as a separate person, rather just comparing her to her sister and the behaviour she would or wouldn’t display. Lara seems to be almost an invisible member in her own family, her parents seemingly concerned about Hannah and what she is or isn’t doing. Lara seems to be the child that always does as is expected and doesn’t demand that extra mental energy. I found her interactions with Jos really cute and liked the two of them….and the remarks of Ashley also felt familiar, trying to downplay someone else’s happenings because it isn’t happening to them, stamping out any happiness they might be feeling. Where I felt I wanted a bit more, was the story that developed with Lara’s history teacher. I’m not sure that for me, there was enough there for Lara to act in the way that she did and the ending was a bit unsatisfactory. I know there’s not going to be an answer for Lara’s project but I think there were a few other aspects of the story that I would’ve liked dealt with a little more, to really round out Lara’s character development and her actions.

A really solid debut and I’ll be definitely adding Anna Morgan to my watch list to keep an eye out for her future releases.


Book #93 of 2019

All That Impossible Space is book #42 of The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019

This review is part of a blog tour for this book presented by Hachette Australia and Aus YA Bloggers. Make sure you check out the rest of the spots, posting every day this week!

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4 responses to “Blog Tour Review: All That Impossible Space by Anna Morgan

  1. I think we all knew an Ashley in high school, and sadly often beyond. Great review.

  2. […] @ Zany Bibliophile | 1 Girl 2 Many Books | Jen @ BookBookOwl |                                    Stef @ NovelTea Corner | […]

  3. Great review Bree, I didn’t mind the sort of echos the unsolved nature of Somerton Man.

  4. […] All That Impossible Space by Anna Morgan. My review. […]

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