Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Genre: LGBT, YA, Contemporary
Publication Date: March 19, 2013 (Macmillan – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: Best friends Stephen and Marco attempt a go-for-broke heist to break into the high school prom and get Marco onstage to confess his love for (and hopefully steal the heart of) Benji, the adorable exchange student and bass player of the prom band.
☆: 5/5 stars – Moskowitz does it again!
Review: Guys, I can’t tell you how much fun I had with this one. While it’s spunky, charming, and utterly a blast to read, it’s very different in tone when compared to Moskowitz’s other effort that was published earlier this year, “Teeth” – at least, on the surface. Moskowitz has done the impossible – she’s written a solid MG/young YA contemporary with tough stuff issues inside without entirely couching it in suicide or bullying (though there is some of the latter in this book). She redefines the ‘tough stuff’ genre with her own immense charm, and the last page will leave you not wanting to leave these characters or this world. If you’re looking for a relatively lighthearted read that still deals with serious issues, make it “Marco Impossible”.
Even though this is more of a comedic venture compared to “Teeth”, there’s still a huge, heavy heart to it at its center. What exactly constitutes the idea of growing up – does that mean leaving your favorite activities from childhood behind (in this case: detective work and heists)? Or does it mean leaving your old friends behind, so that you can start anew somewhere else? Or is it something different – does it mean looking at all of the relationships in your life and starting to make choices about them? All of these questions get looked at by Markowitz with her great MCs, Stephen and Marco, throughout the book. Marco has found his identity (or at least, has a head start), and is comfortable with it – but not everyone is comfortable with him. And that’s a pretty common theme up until college, I think I can safely say. I feel like I identified a lot with both Stephen and Marco throughout the book for various reasons, and generally, I feel this book is pretty important to the late MG/early YA crowd to which it’s aimed.
Even throughout the Great Benji Heist (as I started calling it in my head whilst reading), there’s a lot of things that become clear very quickly in terms of the tough stuff arena. There’s bullying that goes on, though Marco seems (keyword – seems) oblivious to, only wanting to get his man. There’s hate crimes that get involved. And finally, there’s the undeniable issue of losing one’s best friend because he’s going to switch schools. But does that mean you’re really losing your best friend should that happen? While that isn’t explicitly addressed, by the end of the book, we kind of have our answer. And all of this is going on while Marco obsesses and puts his great heist plan into action.
There’s also something wonderful that Markowitz touches upon that usually gets the ‘abusive significant other’ routine when talking about it in YA – healthy relationships. Stephen really starts questioning whether or not staying with Marco is for the best for himself, and whether or not he should continue the farce of the heist when he’s getting too fed up, too angry, and too worried about Marco’s welfare to continue. I’m so glad this was touched upon in terms of friends (and best friends) – because I know I had some VERY unhealthy relationships at Marco and Stephen’s age, and recently, it’s not like our current culture is really promoting those very well. So it was nice to see that looked at.
The technical aspects of this book were flawless, so I won’t really go into them aside from a bit of commentary of the worldbuilding: Markowitz successfully worldbuilds only using school and the atmosphere and constant action of the heist (and hate crime) itself, which I’ve never really seen happen before. She builds her world with her characters, and that was really something to behold. An unusual technique, but it really worked.
Final verdict? Definitely one of the more important late MG/young YA books to come out this year, “Marco Impossible” is tons of fun, but also covers very important ground in terms of young tween/teenage life. Definitely one of the best of 2013 so far and highly recommended, “Marco Impossible” is out March 19, 2013 from Macmillan in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!