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Literature / The Easy Part of Impossible

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The Easy Part of Impossible is a 2020 young adult novel by Sarah Tomp.

Victoria "Ria" Williams was a diver on track for the Olympics, until she slipped and hurt herself while running across the deck. She scratched the meet, and her abusive coach Benny was so angry at her for skipping such an important meet that he kicked her out of the team. Diving was Ria's life, especially since her ADHD makes schoolwork hard without a way to burn off all her energy, and now she doesn't know what to do with her hours of free time. To fill it, she starts spelunking with Cotton Talley, an autistic boy she was friends with in elementary school, and his best friend Leo.

The Easy Part of Impossible contains examples of:

  • Career-Ending Injury: An unusual example. Ria suffered only minor injuries, but she fell because she panickeed and ran away from a yelling coach, and afterwards there were so many questions and so much fighting that she scratched the meet to get away from it even though she was in shape to compete. Averted in the end. Ria goes back to diving and becomes successful without Benny's help.
  • Character Tics: Cotton flutters his fingers against his leg, and also rubs his chin and works his mouth when he's thinking.
  • Fish out of Water: For eleven years, Ria has dedicated every minute of free time to diving. Now she has no idea how to do normal teenage stuff, and feels like an alien in her own hometown.
  • Flowers of Romance: Ria's boyfriend Sean, a lifeguard, brings her flowers at school, then kisses her. He then runs around fist bumping his friends, making Ria wonder if the flowers and the kiss were for her or for them.
  • Fright-Induced Bunkmate: When Ria and Cotton were in fifth grade, Cotton's younger sister Esther vanished. For months afterward, Ria slept between her parents.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: When Benny is angry at Ria for diving into a flooded quarry, he calls her "Miss Victoria Marie Williams" while he hits her.
  • Handshake Refusal: When Benny and Cotton meet, Benny extends his hand and says, "Nice to meet you, Cotton." Cotton scowls, tucks his hand behind his back, and says, "We've met before." (Benny caught Ria and Cotton breaking into his dry gym together.)
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Cotton's real name is Connor. Nobody uses either his or Ria's real names. Cotton's younger siblings go by Jelly, Flutie, and Bo, which are presumably also nicknames.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: When Sean gets drunk at a football game, Ria asks Cotton to help her help him to the car. She expects Cotton to grab Sean's arm, but instead he lifts him over his shoulder and carries him. Later he carries Sean from the car to the porch the same way.
  • Piggyback Cute: Cotton carries Ria to his house this way when she's cold and tired from swimming in a pool they found in a cave.
  • Safe Word: A non-sexual example. When Ria is cutting Cotton's hair, an activity he finds uncomfortable and unpleasant, they agree that he will say "squid" if he wants her to stop. After that, they both use "squid" when they want to stop anything, like an awkward conversation.
  • Training from Hell: Ria sees Benny's abuse as this. From her perspective, every time he hit her was a reasonable punishment for a stupid screw-up on her part, and the pain made her stronger and a better diver.