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My Long List of Impossible Things

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Member Reviews

Books written from the perspective of Germans after World War II aren't that common in fiction, for the obvious reasons. But this book explores the innocence and ignorance of children, the fallout that the German women, children, and elderly dealt with after the war, and the reactions people had to what the Nazis did. It's beautifully written, a plaintive cry from a teenage girl who's life changed because of a war and who wrestles with her conscience and desire to live. I loved this book for showing a side that isn't always seen.
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This book kept my attention the whole time. From the perspective of a teen Katja and her sister, this book gives you a reality of what survival looked like during WWII. As these girls have lost everything except each other, traveling to a another town to people they don’t even know, while trying to keep together what they have left behind, allows you just a taste at what it felt like to live during this time. This book is heart wrenching, time and time again, but in the end shows that there is still good in people in difficult times, even when it is a life or death situation. 

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC of this book!
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I enjoyed reading several aspects of this book! The pacing was wonderful, characters were well drawn, and the reading experience on the whole was delightful.
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I usually don't read historical fiction, but I am trying to venture out. I am very excited to get into this and see how I feel  about the genre. Books I read are usually contemporary or fantasy, sometimes I read Horror. 

We start off in Germany in 1945, so we already know something heavy is going to go down. I was ready to get into this book, and learn something new. What I wasn't ready for was my heart to be completely broken. Barker really knew what it was going to take to just shatter me into pieces. 

At first I loved all of the characters, then we got a few chapters in and I did not care for HIlde. She was snarky and mean, just gave our girl so much grief for loving something/ I understand a lot was happening, but isn't that when they should stick together. One of my main goals for the book was for her to realize how much she was hurting her sister.

Overall I gave the book a 4.5/5 stars. I loved most of it, but there were some parts I felt like it dragged. Will definitely be picking up more books like this.
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I am always looking for new historical fiction to suggest to my students. My Long List of Impossible Things is heavy and at times hard to read for younger readers. A story that must be told nonetheless.
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A serious young adult historical novel. This book was very well written with thought provoking content.
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I wanted so badly to enjoy My Long List of Impossible Things but it didn't work for me. The storyline and characters just didn't interest me.
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Thanks to  Annick Press for providing a digital review copy of My Long List of Impossible Things.

Some books have sad endings. Some books have sad beginnings. Some books have something tragic happen in their center to shift the narrative. My Long List of Impossible Things looked at those books, said bet, and proceeded to stomp on my heart every few pages.

I love that absolutely nobody in this book is a 'good person' because immediately after WWII, there's not much time to be entirely good. A great book with complex characters, a beautifully story about hope and loss and guilt and sacrifice, and a lot of german swears.
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I don't normally read historical fiction but I don't know the author seemed cool and so did this book so I thought why not try it. I didn't love it and I didn't hate it. But i also didn't like it. Idk the writing didn't work for me
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I truly am conflicted. WWII is one of my favorite things to study, so naturally, it is one of my favorite subjects to read about in historical fiction. So, seeing this book was available, I thought it would scratch that itch for WWII fiction that I've had for a while.
I liked this book, but like was as far as I am willing to go with it. It is written for young adults, but something about the writing makes it feel like it is aimed for a younger audience. Some of the content -- what you would expect from post-War Europe -- however, was distinctively adult. I felt that there were moments where Katja was your typical teenager, rash and impulsive, but there were other times she stepped up to the plate and held her own.
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This book jumps right into some heavy topics that young German teens faced during the aftermath of WWII. The ‘Ivan’s’ had invaded and came to treat the German people how their country had been treated. Cold blooded murder, rape and stealing the livelihood of innocent people are all issues our young character, Katja must deal with. Her mother and sister had tried to shield her from the reality but soon the reality of their new world was something they couldn’t hide her from. Katja is quite the spitfire and often times her boldness got her into some major trouble. This was a wonderful YA WWII historical fiction and quite the page turner..
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Michelle Barker's second YA novel, My Long List of Impossible Things, explores the aftermath of World War II through the eyes of a German teenager.  It depicts the struggles of a country and a people reeling from the horrors of war, silent compliance with genocide and Nazism, while being occupied by another dictatorial regime, the Soviet Union.  Barker treats this subject with care to make it much more of a nuanced story, rather than a work that attempts to garner sympathy for Germany in this period.  She captures the mental, emotional, and sometimes physical journey or a girl living in a bubble during the war, rarely coming into contact with those things that terrify her, until her life is upended and she must make a new way for herself.  This theme is something that many of us are feeling in the present day, adjusting to our new normal, which looks so different from what it was days, weeks, months, or even years ago.  

This heavy subject is presented in way that young readers, young adults, and college students can easily digest and understand another view of the aftermath of the war, rarely depicted in mass media.  A couple of warnings for scenes depicting or referencing sexual assault, rape, graphic violence, and genocide.  This book evoked an emotional response on more than one occasion for me due to it's realism and highly stylistic writing.  I found myself feeling exactly what Katja felt in those moments:  terror, determination, love, fear, desperation, etc.

"You never knew when something would happen for the last time. If you did, you’d cling to every precious second."

This sentiment is echoing so loudly here in the present day.  This novel is not only timely, but something that so many of us should read.  Though we are not facing the same dangers that Katja and Hilde eventually faced in their narrative, we are facing tumultuous change throughout our world.

The pacing of this work is spot on and the character development is wonderfully done!  I could not have been happier to have had the chance to read and review this book.  Michelle Barker is a top notch author!  I would recommend this book to all young adults, college students, and anyone interested in post WWII historical fiction.  Really a superb read!

This book is out now from Annick Press at most major retailers!  

I received a galley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.

Michelle Barker's goodreads page and her website is:  https://michellebarker.ca/.
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I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I found this book a bit scattered. I had to reread multiple chapters just to figure out if I missed something. It wasn't bad but it didn't feel cohesive. 

Thank you kindly to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for this review copy.
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A few weeks ago I was working on a data project for a client and encountered the details of a woman born in Germany in the final months of World War II. My first reaction was that I wanted to meet her: what fascinating stories she could tell. Imagine her experiences growing up in Germany in the shadow of the war? Apart from the obvious privacy issues stopping me, I realized I didn’t need to. I had My Long List of Impossible Things by Michelle Barker on my iPad.

There are a few differences between the woman I discovered and Katja. Katja was 16 as the war ended and the Soviet army moved in. She was secretly taught piano by a Jewish man during the war and evacuated with her mother and sister when the Soviet army took over her village. Oh, and Katja is fictitious.

My Long List of Impossible Things is Michelle’s second novel that’s so well-researched that it could be non-fiction. I found myself looking up details of wartime Berlin after The House of One Thousand Eyes. I didn’t for this (because I knew it was fiction, but the world building matches the real-life stories we know from that time.

This is getting very scattered. You have the synopsis above, so I won’t waste time on that. Instead, I’ll say what I appreciated about the novel. From the first instance, I adored Katja’s mother. Her phrasing and strength drew me to her. I used the word appreciate because there are some things in the book, which made it excellent but love is an inappropriate word. There are deaths, and a rape, and inferred prostitution. It’s all, unfortunately, normal for an early post-war situation and historically accurate, but we prefer to think armistice leads to tea parties and fun. The first death is brutal and hit me hard. It was unexpected, and I felt an affection for the character. Weirdly, more than I had for Katja, but she grew on me. I also appreciate the depth of the characters and the lies they told themselves to cope. Death affected all. The war took away the males, and no one knew if they would return. So those at home played pretend, even though they knew it was pretend.

Is this the worst review I’ve written? I feel My Long List of Impossible Things deserves better, but it’s not happening, so you’ll have to read it for yourself. Really, please read it. Partially for the historically accurate rarely told story, but also because it’s a great book.
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Katerina (Katja) is a 16-year-old girl living in Germany at the end of World War II. She loves to play the piano and wants to be a concert pianist one day. Her world is shattered when armed Soviets soldiers come to her family’s farmhouse in Pomerania and force them to leave their home. Her father died in the war so she only has her older sister Hilde and her mother. They embark on foot to seek refuge in Fahlhoff where her Aunt Ilse and Uncle Otto live and own a dress shop. This journey leads Katja to really reflect on who she is and in the end what role she had in this war. 

I don’t know if it was the time I read it but this book was a bummer to read. I did learn some things about the end of WWII and what was going on then that I hadn’t known about. Katja was a strong protagonist. She stood up for what she believed in despite people telling her not to for fear of the consequences. The ending was abrupt and the romance in the story cut short.
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An evocative, fast-paced, and quite moving story of what life was like for Germans in the Soviet sector after World War II, "My Long List of Impossible Things" might be classified as young-adult fiction, but as an old(er) adult I didn't see much difference between this and an "adult" novel. The "moral"—make that "morals"—is not hammered home but instead comes to bloom organically, and the relationship between the two sisters at the heart of the book is beautifully—and because these are teen girls, after all, frustratingly—true to life. My only carps are that the narrator often seems much younger than 16 (was she "aged up" to make the book more commercial?) and the loose ends are tied up a bit too predictably—but I did tear up nonetheless.

Thank you, Annick Press and NetGalley, for giving me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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My Long List of Impossible Things
by Michelle Barker

Annick Press Ltd.

Annick Press
Historical Fiction , Teens & YA




Pub Date 10 Mar 2020


I am reviewing a copy of My Long List of Impossible Things from Annick Press Ltd and Netgalley:


When the soviet army arrives in Germany at the end of World War 2 Katharine and her families world is turned into turmoil.  The fighting has stopped but now Soviet Soldiers are forcing families to live there homes with no way to support themselves.  The fighting has stopped but German society is in a state of collapse, leading to unimaginable hardships.  They faced hunger with no food anywhere, and millions were forced to wander the countryside with nowhere to go.  They must flee there home but Katja and her sister will face danger and violence on this harrowing  Journey.  Katja will have to find the strength to build a new life, even as she questions everything she thought she knew about her country.



It is Katja’s bravery and defiance that help her deal with both her emotional upheaval and her societal upheaval.  But will she be able to stay true to herself and still protect her loved ones at a time when every decision can have far reaching consequences.?




My List of Impossible Things is a powerful story of a young woman’s awakening to what her country, Germany did during The Holocaust.  It is a story of great pain, and loss but more importantly it is a story of hope and resilience.



I give My List of Impossible Things five out of five stars!


Happy Reading!
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I cannot recommend this book enough. I was excited to read something different and this book did not disappoint me.
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I have really been enjoying this trend in publishing where we are getting more stories of what was happening in Europe immediately following WWII, and for that reason I was very excited when I came across My Long List of Impossible Things, a story about a German teenager that must come to terms with the truths of what her countrymen did during the war, all while trying to survive the Soviets.

I'm a little torn on a lot of aspects of this book - I thought the writing was mostly good, and I mostly enjoyed the plot, and I sometimes liked the characters ... but never enough of any one of these things to turn it from an okay book to a great one (in my eyes). The main character, Katja, seemed to act way younger than her 16 years - and while I know that teenagers have been very similar in lots of ways for hundreds of years, I would have expected a 16yo in post WWII Germany to have a little bit more awareness of herself and those around her. This made the reach for believability somewhat of a strain at times. 

The author's note at the end (as well as her research notes) helped me look at the book a bit differently immediately upon finishing, and definitely helped improve my views on the overall story - so I would make sure to check that out if you pick this one up!

Thank you to NetGalley, Annick Press, & Ingram Publisher Services for the opportunity to read and review this book before it's publication date! This in no way affected my review, opinions are my own.
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A wonderfully written YA historical that has you cheering for Katja and will have wishing you could help her. Absolutely pick up this winner of a book. You won't be disappointed. Happy reading!
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