How do you know when a book is good? In the moment, lots of books seem amazing if their plots are interesting. You can argue that any book that keeps your attention long enough for you to finish it has done its job and is therefore good. But there are some signs of an exceptional book that you just can’t ignore:

  • Everything around you reminds you of the book — the plot, the characters, the setting.
  • You can’t seem to stop thinking about your favorite moments and characters.
  • You find yourself compulsively googling the author and any sequels they might write.
  • You start thinking about naming a child, pet or stuffed animal after one of the characters.
  • Reading it has inspired you to try to write something yourself.

There are undoubtedly many more signs of an exceptional book, but these are some of my favorites.

Why am I rambling on about how to spot a great book?

Because The Impossible Girl was exceptional. It ticked all of the boxes. I read it about two months ago now and am still reminded of it every couple of days, at least. Every time I see a restaurant that serves oysters I inevitably think about The Impossible Girl‘s setting of 1850’s Manhattan. There were, apparently, lots of oyster bars.

But there’s more than oyster bars — Lydia Kang did an impossible amount of research on this novel (get it?). The time period, the medical diagnoses and jargon, and even the clothing was all excruciatingly detailed and amazingly done. I was immersed, invested, and in love. 

The basic premise of The Impossible Girl is this: A girl (Cora) is born with two hearts. A doctor believes she won’t live long and tries to buy her (for science — as in, to dissect). Her caretakers refuse, and they decide to disguise her as a boy to shake off rumors of “the girl with two hearts,” whose body would fetch a high price.

If you’re tired of the girl-pretends-to-be-a-boy trope, no worries — the book picks up after Cora has reached adulthood and established herself as a skilled resurrectionist. No, resurrectionists don’t actually resurrect the dead… they procure bodies and sell them to schools, doctors or museums for a profit. Her male alter-ego is a part of the story, but not a huge one. I’d recommend The Impossible Girl to anyone interested in the plot, whether they enjoy or detest this specific trope.

Overall, this book was an easy five stars. Every detail was perfect. I highly recommend The Impossible Girl to anyone — whether you’re a fan of mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, fantasy or any other genre, there’s something here you’ll enjoy.