A *Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club pick* and razor‑sharp debut novel of three best friends navigating love, sex, faith, and the one night that changes it all.
It’s always been Malak, Kees, and Jenna against the world. Since childhood, under the watchful eyes of their parents, aunties and uncles, they’ve learned to live their own lives alongside the expectations of being good Muslim women. Staying over at a boyfriend's place is disguised as a best friend’s sleepover, and tiredness can be blamed on studying instead of partying. They know they’re existing in a perfect moment. With growing older and the stakes of love and life growing higher, the delicate balancing act between rebellion and religion is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate.
Malak wants the dream: for her partner, community, and faith to coexist happily, and she wants this so much she's willing to break her own heart to get it. Kees is in love with Harry, a white Catholic man who her parents can never know about. When he proposes, she must decide between her future happiness and the life she knows and family she loves. Jenna is the life of the party, always ready for new pleasures, even though she’s plagued by a loneliness she can’t shake. Through it all, they have always had each other. But as their college years come to a close, one night changes everything when harsh truths are revealed.
As their lives begin to take different paths, Malak, Kees, and Jenna—now on the precipice of true adulthood—must find a way back to each other as they reconcile faith, family, and tradition with their own needs and desires. These Impossible Things is a paean to youth and female friendship—and to all the joy and messiness love holds.
A Marie Claire Book Club Pick for June 2022 and a Most Anticipated Book by: Bustle, theSkimm, Fortune, Apartment Therapy, and BookRiot
About the Author
Salma El‑Wardany is a writer, poet, and BBC broadcaster. As a half‑Egyptian, half‑Irish woman her work focuses on telling the stories of women, especially women of color, that have for so long been ignored. She has contributed to the anthology It’s Not About the Burqa, and her writing has also appeared in Huffington Post, theMetro and she has given two TedxTalks.
"A fun, witty, sharply observant work.... El-Wardany captures perfectly the uncertainty of life in one’s mid-20s…. readers will be thinking about Malak, Kees, and Jenna long after they close the book."—Library Journal (starred review)
"The complex characters are well observed and the prose is often moving... Fresh, witty, and insightful, this is an auspicious start." —Publishers Weekly
“Sparkling, incisive debut… While frothy and chatty, with witty dialogue and plenty of weddings and other gatherings that spark interactions among the characters, the book doesn't shy away from more serious issues... This novel is blessed by a light touch and evenhanded treatment of its two generations of characters.”—Kirkus
"These Impossible Things is an addictive portrait of three Muslim friends moving through a pivotal time in womanhood, caught between expectation and possibility, hungry to earn wisdom of their own. Salma El-Wardany deftly reveals searing and poignant truths about the female experience, ones so rarely confronted in fiction. What a gift to be inside this author’s mind through the pages of her beautiful and memorable writing."—Ashley Audrain, New York Times bestselling author of The Push
"This is the essential book on sisterhood that I needed to read. Beautifully written and gorgeous, Salma El-Wardany is a brilliant writer and this is a story I will never forget."—Nikita Gill, poet and author of Wild Embers
"I can't remember the last time a book consumed me like this. I truly, truly loved it. It's so beautifully written, full of warmth and love and insight; Malak, Kees and Jenna stole into my heart and stayed there. This novel captures the fierceness of female friendship better than anything I've ever read. It is a book I know I will still be thinking about for many years to come."—Beth O'Leary, international bestselling author of The Flatshare and The Road Trip
“Salacious, incisive, and unapologetically Muslim, Salma El-Wardany’s bold and brilliant story doesn’t shy away from the taboo subjects of religion and sex. These Impossible Things shows that Muslim women are multifaceted and complex despite the dearth of representation we are allowed.”—Blair Imani, activist and bestselling author of Read This to Get Smarter
“Moving, telling, glorious; girlhood giving way to something urgent and beginning. This is a bracing, tender exploration of friendship, family and faith and their gaping complications. Irresistible.”—Yrsa Daley-Ward, bestselling author of bone and The How