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My Long List of Impossible Things

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  83 ratings  ·  39 reviews
A brilliant historical YA that asks: how do you choose between survival and doing the right thing?

The arrival of the Soviet army in Germany at the end of World War II sends sixteen-year-old Katja and her family into turmoil. The fighting has stopped, but German society is in collapse, resulting in tremendous hardship. With their father gone and few resources available to t
Published February 17th 2020 by Annick
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Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, arc, young-adult
Thank you Annick Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

This book. Wow, Michelle Barker does it again! I love how she can take a really hard time in history, and explore literally all aspects of it...both sides of the war, many different opinions, etc. There's no doubt in my mind that Michelle Barker is a fantastic writer. I loved the story, the characters, and the setting. Definitely a great book to have in schools.
Bethaney Miller
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This book kept my attention the whole time. From the perspective of a teen Katja and her sister, this book gives you a reality of what survival looked like during WWII. As these girls have lost everything except each other, traveling to a another town to people they don’t even know, while trying to keep together what they have left behind, allows you just a taste at what it felt like to live during this time. This book is heart wrenching, time and time again, but in the end shows that there is s ...more
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book jumps right into some heavy topics that young German teens faced during the aftermath of WWII. The ‘Ivan’s’ had invaded and came to treat the German people how their country had been treated. Cold blooded murder, rape and stealing the livelihood of innocent people are all issues our young character, Katja must deal with. Her mother and sister had tried to shield her from the reality but soon the reality of their new world was something they couldn’t hide her from. Katja is quite the sp ...more
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-ww2
Over the last few years I've been seeing more YA books based around experiences of WWII that are outside of the norm of what we usually read and learn about regarding that period of history, and this book fits in line with that theme. It takes place in Soviet occupied post-WWII Germany and tells the story of 16 year old Katja, a musical talent with dreams of being a concert pianist, and her older sister Hilde, who are displaced from their home and travel with their mother to seek refuge at a fri ...more
Geneviève (thefreckledbookworm)
The writing style of this book feels like it's more appropriate for a younger than YA public, but not quite middle grade. But also... this book talks about sexual abuse, rape, violence, genocide, etc. SO BEWARE.

I loved that this book was written from a young German girl's POV during WWII, reminiscent of Salt to the Sea. It was interesting to read and reflect about how a lot of people in Germany weren't necessarily siding with Hitler, and if they did, it was often to protect themselves and their
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, new-releases
What is the cost of doing nothing?

World War II stories are some of my favorite historical fiction to read, but I've read very little about the aftermath of the war. This young adult novel focuses on two sisters, Katja and Hilde, who are fleeing their German village after Russia invaded and took control at the end of the war. Katja is a very impulsive and naive girl who makes rash decisions that often end up causing more trouble than she anticipated. This story is about her coming to terms with
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, wwii-roots
This was my first time reading a book detailing a German's viewpoint after WWII when Russia invades Germany. Katja, her sister Hilde, and their mother are forced out of their house when Soviet troops take over their village. The family begins a long and dangerous journey to another town, hoping that a long distance relative will be there to offer them food and protection. Their luck only grows worse as they travel, and Katja and Hilde learn they have to rely on each other if they want to make it ...more
Gabriele Goldstone
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great to read a well researched book about the consequences of war told from the German perspective. The Soviet advance at the end of the Second World War had a huge impact on both my parents.

While Katja's impulsive nature underlines her immaturity and lands her in a lot of trouble, she learns from her mistakes. The tension builds near the end and I found myself anxiously reading on, as Katja makes difficult decisions and grows up in the process.
Keely Langford
Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.

My Long List of Impossible Things offers a unique perspective in the World War II historical fiction genre. Our heroine, Katja, is older, a teenager, rather than an adult or a child/tween. While her family wasn't pro-Nazi, they were complacent in the sense that they did their best to stay out of the fray. The story begins after the Germans have been defeated and the Soviets are sweeping through, pillaging and seeki
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There's a post WWII German novel memoir trope, showing how much Germans suffered, pleading sympathy for what they didn't know, making themselves out like the ultimate victim..

This novel isn't that..

Barker makes it quite clear that Katja's life during the war is lived within a bubble of prosperity and ignorance. That bubble suddenly bursts as the war ends with the arrival of the Soviets and her family is turfed from their home with minutes' notice and must embark on a horrific trek. Katja experi
Kate Waggoner
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: high school students, young adults, adults
Shelves: 2020-read

Thank you to the publisher, @annick_press, for sharing an advance copy of My Long List of Impossible Things by Michelle Barker with the #Kidlitexchange network. This book will be released March 10, 2020. All opinions are my own.

WWII is over and Katja, her mother, and her sister, Hilde, are living in the aftermath. The Soviets have invaded and German society is in collapse. One day soldiers appear at their door and give them only a few minutes to pack their things and leave. Katj
MaryLou Driedger
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Maybe life was an uphill/downhill sort of thing. You spent the first part getting things- a family, an education and friends and then the rest of your life losing them until you were left with nothing."
That is just one of the keen observations I appreciated in the novel My Long List of Impossible Things by Michelle Barker. She tells a World War II story from the point of view of a young  German girl who must flee with her family when the Soviet Army occupies her country at the end of the war.  
Laura Peterson
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle Kidwell
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing

My Long List of Impossible Things
by Michelle Barker

Annick Press Ltd.

Annick Press
Historical Fiction , Teens & YA

Pub Date 10 Mar 2020

I am reviewing a copy of My Long List of Impossible Things from Annick Press Ltd and Netgalley:

When the soviet army arrives in Germany at the end of World War 2 Katharine and her families world is turned into turmoil. The fighting has stopped but now Soviet Soldiers are forcing families to live there homes with no way to support themselves. The fighting has stopped b
Lindsey (Bring My Books)
I have really been enjoying this trend in publishing where we are getting more stories of what was happening in Europe immediately following WWII, and for that reason I was very excited when I came across My Long List of Impossible Things, a story about a German teenager that must come to terms with the truths of what her countrymen did during the war, all while trying to survive the Soviets.

I'm a little torn on a lot of aspects of this book - I thought the writing was mostly good, and I mostly
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In 1945, Kaja, her mother and her sister live on a farm in Germany. Her father was a soldier who died in the war. Life is difficult as the Jews are being taken to death camps. Her Jewish piano teacher’s wife goes to visit Katja’s mother for help. She is turned away. It is decided that the three of them will leave and go to live with Aunt Ilse and Uncle Otto. Why? On their walk to them the Russian soldiers shoot the mother dead. Why? Katja and her sister Hilde decide to continue on to Aunt Ilse. ...more
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
S. Smith
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
In this young adult novel of World War II, the author applies her thorough research to create a story that depicts wartime's impacts on civilian populations and raises uncomfortable questions about responsibility, denial, and guilt. Protagonist Katja is a music-loving German teenager who understands little about Nazi policies of evil, having been sheltered from such knowledge by her middle class farming family even as the war went on around them. Then suddenly the conflict is over, Russian victo ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
In this book, a young woman and her older sister must each find their own ways of surviving in post-WWII Germany, and must examine and develop their own personal ethics, beliefs, and senses of guilt and responsibility. Initially accompanied by their mother, they leave home when Soviet soldiers arrive, trekking to the home of a friend of their mother's from long ago. Once settled in a small town, they seek work, safety, and daily necessities while trying to negotiate the occupying Soviets, the bl ...more
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you net galley for the advance reader copy of this novel. This is an amazing YA read about WWII. The theme of the choices we make floats through this book as well as the power of family. I loved this book and have been searching for other YA titles like Salt to the Sea and The WAr I finally won. This book is not graphic in the details of the holocaust and also sheds light on both German and Soviet hardships. Katja is the ma in character, a 16 year girl with her sister Holds who are forced ...more
Sherry Chiger
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
An evocative, fast-paced, and quite moving story of what life was like for Germans in the Soviet sector after World War II, "My Long List of Impossible Things" might be classified as young-adult fiction, but as an old(er) adult I didn't see much difference between this and an "adult" novel. The "moral"—make that "morals"—is not hammered home but instead comes to bloom organically, and the relationship between the two sisters at the heart of the book is beautifully—and because these are teen girl ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I truly am conflicted. WWII is one of my favorite things to study, so naturally, it is one of my favorite subjects to read about in historical fiction. So, seeing this book was available, I thought it would scratch that itch for WWII fiction that I've had for a while.

That being said, I liked this book, but "like" is as far as I am willing to go with it. It is written for young adults, but something abo
Tanya Bellehumeur-allatt
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a truly wonderful book. I highly recommend it. You will fall in love with the main character, Katja, as she navigates homelessness, dislocation, the loss of her beloved mother and the disillusionment and brokenness of post-war Germany under Soviet occupation.

From a writing standpoint, there's lots to admire here. The prose is luminous (think All the Light we Cannot See), the storyline zips along and includes a mystery and a love story (think A Northern Light)
the research is impeccable (
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 14-and-15
Thanks to Annick Press for providing a digital review copy of My Long List of Impossible Things.

Some books have sad endings. Some books have sad beginnings. Some books have something tragic happen in their center to shift the narrative. My Long List of Impossible Things looked at those books, said bet, and proceeded to stomp on my heart every few pages.

I love that absolutely nobody in this book is a 'good person' because immediately after WWII, there's not much time to be entirely good. A great
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I found this book a bit scattered. I had to reread multiple chapters just to figure out if I missed something. It wasn't bad but it didn't feel cohesive.

Thank you kindly to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for this review copy.
Sep 29, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 This book was hard to read. Many of Katja's choices were so frustrating. It is so easy to pass judgement or with hindsight and Barker discusses this in the Author's Note. It's so easy to try to split situations down the middle and call one side good and one side bad, but it isn't so cut and dry, especially when it comes to war. ...more
Aida Alberto
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A wonderfully written YA historical that has you cheering for Katja and will have wishing you could help her. Absolutely pick up this winner of a book. You won't be disappointed. Happy reading! #MyLongListOfImpossibleThings #NetGalley ...more
Amy Anderson
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book provides an important perspective on the aftermath of WWII in Germany, told exceptionally well from the viewpoint of a teenage girl. I don't read YA very often, but I really enjoyed this one. ...more
May 03, 2020 added it
Shelves: dnf
I don't normally read historical fiction but I don't know the author seemed cool and so did this book so I thought why not try it. I didn't love it and I didn't hate it. But i also didn't like it. Idk the writing didn't work for me ...more
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I was born and raised in Vancouver. I attended Arts One at UBC, studied for a year at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and graduated with a BA from UBC in English literature. After a short foray into comp lit, I left the Master's program and worked as a research/editing assistant to Sherrill MacLaren. Sailed across the Pacific from Vancouver to Hawaii, had four children, lived for a summer in M ...more

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