Title: Impossible to Forget
Author: Imogen Clark
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Coming of Age
What It’s About: Maggie, Leon, Tiger, and Hope listen to the Solicitor lay out Angie’s last requests for her daughter, Romany. Angie had left the flat paid off before she passed away from cancer, but she wanted each of her oldest friend to keep an eye on Romany, who is on the cusp of turning 18, for different reasons. Leon for the culture, Tiger for the travel, Hope for the relationships, and Maggie for the hard stuff. She also asks one of them to move in with Romany for the remainder of her school year, and Leon, and Maggie manage to convince Tiger to put down roots for six months to watch over Romany, which he ultimately agrees to even though he is a person who likes to travel more often than stay in one place.
At first, things are weird for Romany and Tiger. She barely knows him, and feels like this was her mother’s imposition to keep an eye on her. Romany doesn’t understand why her mother would want Tiger around to teach her about broadening her horizons and traveling, but as time goes on, she begins to grow close to Tiger. The closeness further develops after Tiger takes her on a tour of the town where she would like to go for University, and dazzles her with his knowledge of the nooks and crannies for having traveled through the city before many times. In turn, he cooks meals for the two of them, and by spending time in one location with Romany, he comes to terms with the fact that maybe he’d like to put down roots after all.
Maggie, who Romany has known all her life as her “auntie,” is the solicitor. She met Leon and Angie in University when they were living on the same floor, and found Angie rude. Through Angie, she met Tiger and seemed to have a lot of romantic tension with him that lead nowhere. As they graduated university, Maggie went on to be a successful solicitor before losing her job and working as a front desk receptionist. She struggles telling Angie and when she finally lets it out, she tells Angie that she doesn’t know what she wants to do with herself because all she planned in life was to be a solicitor. She begins to date Leon after losing her job, and after helping Romany with her university entrance application, her conversation with Romany makes he realize that she’s been afraid for too long to do something that she wanted. She wants to be a solicitor again, to be solving other people’s problems, and be more than the front desk receptionist. Shortly thereafter, she happens to overhear a conversation between two men as a receptionist of an architectural firm, one of whom is her boss and she helps them solve their problem legally so that they can build the building but also stay within the budget. Romany comes to her when she needs help with writing her university entrance applications, but not much else.
Leon met Maggie and Angie in his university years, as they lived in the same dorm room–across and next to each other. One night, Tiger played the guitar and Leon brought out his saxophone, playing music with so much talent that Angie believed he should be pursuing music as his career rather than doing the sensible thing and finding a stable job. After university, he got married to Beth, with whom he had two boys, and as a result, the friends saw each other less over the years. It was around the time when his eldest son went to University that Leon and Beth separated and then divorced. After drinks one night, he found himself in Maggie’s bed, and the two started a relationship. Angie tasked Leon with teaching Romany culture and making sure that she’s well rounded; however, the books that he suggest to Romany are met with silence, and Romany secretly complains to her friend that they are boring. They accidentally run into each other as Romany is on her way out to meet with her friend for an open mic night, and on a whim, she invites Leon with her to the club. It is obvious to him that Romany’s friend is terrified of playing on stage, so he gives her a few words of encouragement and she does amazing on stage. Her friend and Romany end up signing Leon up for open mic night, and when he finally plays at the bar, surrounded by Maggie, Tiger, Romany and her friends, the bar is awed and he is offered a gig at a different place owned and managed by the same person. He could not be more ecstatic.
Maggie, Tiger and Leon can’t figure out what to make of Hope who was never part of their group. Maggie only saw Hope once during Hope’s birthday party, where she was a +1 for Angie, but Angie ran out of the house for an unbeknownst reason. Hope met Angie in her business class, and while at first they didn’t hit it off, Angie believed in Hope’s business focused on swimwear, and that resulted them in becoming friends. What Hope and the rest don’t know is that Hope’s boyfriend is Angie’s ex-boyfriend and Romany’s father. Angie had asked Romany if she wanted to get to know her father when she was younger, but Romany had been adamant about not getting to know him because her mother was enough for her. The father, Daniel, had left Angie when she was pregnant with Romany, and when he showed up after Romany was born, he only told Angie that he was in love with another person. When Romany, Leon, Tiger, and Maggie go to celebrate Christmas at a restaurant, they run into Hope, and she introduces them to the chef, Daniel. At first Tiger cannot figure out who Daniel is, but knows that he is familiar, and only through conversation with Maggie, who pieces the part of the party, they figure out that Daniel is Romany’s father. Hope then invites Romany to a photoshoot, and when it’s time to go back home, Daniel takes her. They hit it off easily, and Daniel then tells her the truth–he is her father, which has Romany running in a panic home.
At the end, Romany gets into the school of her dreams to study in the STEM field to help cure cancer due to her mom’s illness. To celebrate her, the whole gang consisting of Leon, Maggie, Tiger, Daniel and Hope (who reveal to Romany that Daniel told the truth to Hope after she came back from the Solicitor’s office) go out and have a great time. Romany then asks for all of them to stay in her life even though she’s going to university, because she believes she still needs guidance in the form of her mom’s best friends.
My Thoughts: I really loved this story mostly because of the fact that Romany has just as much an impact on the lives of Maggie, Leon and Tiger as they do on hers. And it’s such a beautiful thing to see, though Romany seems a bit too well composed in the face of her mothers death, that seems atypical for a teenager with only one parent.
If you’re looking for a feel good story that meshes the past, and the present, connecting the threads of friendships through multiple points of time and into a child’s life as she’s about to embark on her own journey through university and adulthood, this book is a great read.