The Impossible Us
By Sara Lotz • Published March 22, 2022
Two star-crossed lovers who try, and fail, to live without each other create unforeseen consequences for everyone involved.
Bee is a small business owner who enjoys repurposing wedding gowns for happily married and divorced clients. Her work is rewarding and life is simple—a bit lonely, but simple. Nick is, well, doing his best. His career has stalled and his marriage is in the toilet—but hey, no one said that writing would be easy. Writers are supposed to suffer—unless that suffering takes the form of an upper-class client who hasn’t paid his bill, in which case, it’s perfectly acceptable to shoot the “tight-fisted pea-brained grouse-shooting tweedy twat” a message that somehow lands in someone else’s inbox. Bee replies to Nick’s diatribe and they strike up a lively correspondence. So far, so good. But when a failed attempt to meet in person leads to the discovery that they live in parallel universes, it’s safe to say that their budding romance has hit a bit of a glitch. At first, they try to find happiness with their same-world counterparts—i.e., the version of the other person that occupies their own universe—but it’s just not the same. Bee’s Nick (Nicholas) is a considerate man and a successful author, but their romance lacks the easy camaraderie that she shares with the funnier, more confident Nick. Nick’s Bee (Becca) is a wife and mother, so “complicated” doesn’t even come close. Meanwhile, there’s the dilemma of what, if anything, to tell their family and friends and the little matter of The Berenstain Society, a small but threatening band of multiverse conspiracists who are determined to keep their status as “displaced persons” classified. If there’s an answer to Nick and Bee’s problem, it’s anything but simple.
Lotz’s ingenious take on “can’t live with them, can’t live without them” is well-paced, well-plotted novel with realistic characterizations and witty dialogue. These elements will pacify readers who find The Berenstain Society a bit of a stretch and the final solution somewhat problematic for a few of the secondary characters, who Lotz deserves credit for making us care about.