Since moving to Australia, I have been looking into reading as many different Australian writers from both adult and YA, and I am pleased that I was introduced to Anna’s writing as All That Impossible Space did not disappoint.
During the book we follow two stories, which run parallel to one another one now and the other in 1948. Lara is a young person who is doing her best to try and survive school and just being a young person and the dilemmas that brings. She is given a history project to looking into the Somerton Man mystery which to this day has never been solved. It happens that I live quite near to Somerton Beach so had to take a look for myself.
Anna tells the story of the mystery surrounding the death of a mystery man on Somerton Beach, Adelaide. This man had no identity, the labels were cut out of his clothes and he was found in a three piece suit on a beach. The police spend a lot of time and efforts to try and reunite him with his family or friends, however, nothing is forthcoming. From talking to some of the local residents, this mystery still is continues, one resident says that there were rumours that he was a time traveler and others just were interested in what I knew about the mystery. I just referred them to the amazing book Anna has written.
Mr Grant who was Lara’s history teacher gave her this special assignment and seemed to be spending more time with Lara around this mystery. Mr Grant is a mystery himself, which leads to Lara thinking about a range of conspiracy theories not only about the Somerton Mystery but Mr Grant. Mr Grant initially appears to be a “cool” teacher who has a passion for History which he just wants to share with his pupils.
“History is like a map to the past, but it’s a map that hasn’t been filled in, a map with lots of gaps in it. It’s about the gaps between all the things we know, and what happens when we try to fill those gaps. That’s where the magic happens. Because some of those mysteries of the past can never be solved – unless you can prove me wrong.”
During the book, we also have to deal with Lara’s friend Ash. She is apparently Lara’s best friend. I found her a distasteful and controlling bully who seemed to almost hold Lara to ransom because she helped her out once. Lara is just a young woman who is trying to be a good friend with no motive she just wants a companion. She seems to find that in Kate, who moves the area. Initially, you get the impression Kate is a bit strange, but what Lara finds out is that Kate is trying to be good friend, providing support and guidance and simply being their when Lara needs her the most. What you see evolving throughout the novel, is Lara learning what a friend means. It is an incredibly powerful moment, when you can see Lara starting to learn what really makes a good friend and it is okay to challenge people’s behaviours, yes it may be uncomfortable to start with, but it will make you feel so much better in the long run.
You sense Lara’s loss with her sister, Hannah travelling, and only communicating via a postcard every now and then. Lara continued to communicate with Hannah, by leaving her emails, she did not respond back. I felt the silence from Hannah was difficult for Lara, I felt that during this time Lara really needed her big sister support and guidance even if it was a few words it did not have to be in her presence. Lara seemed to understand that perhaps her sister was going through her own issues and needed some time away to get her head around the big wide world. Lara’s maturity and love for her sister was such that she seemed to respect her sisters needs, but you still felt her longing to have some sort of communication as she cherished the postcards that were sent. You could feel Lara’s heart filling up with joy when she had the postcards, but was desperate to respond and ask questions about life, and moving into the scary world of being and adult.
All That Impossible Space is a beautiful journal of friendship, the good, bad and ugly and truly reflects the dilemmas young people go through every day mixed with a historical mystery which leaves you asking questions. This novel is a love letter for what a true friendship is and what a toxic friendship is and gives you permission to deal with the toxicity in relationships. What an amazing debut novel, Anna had a magical touch in her writing when exploring relationships and the thought processes young people go through as well as dealing with the other complexities in their lives. Anna gives young people a voice, one so loud it makes adults sit up and listen. I was left wanting to help Lara solve this mystery, but came to realise that at times mysteries just remain that.
Anna Morgan is an author to watch.
About the Book
How do you solve a 70-year-old mystery when you can’t even figure out your own life?
Lara Laylor is doing her best to navigate the mysteries of Year 10; boys, enigmatic new students, and a drama queen friend who always takes centre stage.
When new history teacher Mr Grant gives her a special assignment to investigate the Somerton Man mystery, Lara finally starts to feel like she’s standing in the spotlight. Found dead on an Adelaide beach in 1948, the labels cut out of his clothes, the Somerton Man has intrigued people for years. Was he a spy? A criminal?
And then Mr Grant goes missing…..and Lara is convinced that his disappearance is part of a wider conspiracy. Has her obsession with the Somerton Man developed her powers of deduction? Or is Lara being led into a mystery darker than even she expects?
About The Author
Anna Morgan was born in Sydney, but spent most of her childhood surrounded by mountains in Nepal and Tibet while her parents were part of an international community of health professionals. Navigating this cross-cultural life made her curious observer of people, although most of her time was spent reading Enid Blyton and dreaming of going to boarding school. This did not cushion the shock of shifting from home-school in Tibet to an all-girls high school in Melbourne when her family returned to Australia. All That Impossible Space explores some of the intense and convoluted friendships that thrive in this setting. Anna completed a MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University in 2015, and now lives in Melbourne with her husband. She works as a bookseller.