When Impossible Happens

When Impossible Happens cover
When Impossible Happens by Jane De Suza

By Jane De Suza
Putnam, 2023
176 pages

Ages 7-10

Swara, almost 9, lives in apartment building in Bengaluru, India. When the pandemic lockdown begins, she especially misses her maternal grandmother, whom she calls Pitter Paati. Pitter Paati, living across town, talks with Swara online, but it’s not the same. Then Pitter Paati gets sick, and quickly worsens. Swara can’t believe Pitter Paati might die, and indeed won’t acknowledge the truth when her beloved grandmother is gone. The strange activity Swara observes in the nearby sari shop is at first a distraction from her confused feelings: men enter the building each night flashing small lights that eventually appear in neighboring shops, too. Pitter Paati, who loved reading mysteries, called Swara Little Miss Marple. Now Swara looks for signs from Pitter Paati that she’s on the right track as she tries to determine what the men are up to. She organizes kids in her building—most connecting virtually–to help her keep watch, with Swara’s 17-year-old brother, Rishi, an at-first-reluctant part of the team. The entertaining, slightly over-the-top mystery is woven into a lively, lovely story about family and community, grief and healing. Swara’s parents, and her teasing, sometimes prickly, clearly loving relationship with Rishi, are wonderfully realized, while Swara’s teacher, Nina Miss, creates opportunities for Swara and her classmates to talk about their worries and fears and feelings in online school. All of it plays a part in Swara’s gradual acceptance of her grandmother’s death, and her understanding of ways Pitter Paati will always be with her. ©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center