Here is the thing about this book. It is excruciatingly heartbreaking, but I laughed out loud on almost every page. And I am not an easy laugher. Newman’s voice is hilarious and warm; her characters feel like old friends ... [A] winning novel.
A love letter to best-friendship ... While Newman is not afraid to take us — and herself — right up to the hardest, most raw and unendurable faces of loss, she is also not afraid to show us the light, the exquisite beauty, and weird, lifesaving hilarity of the same. And that is what makes this story not only bearable, but affirming, entertaining, and unaccountably, wonderfully funny ... She has a deep talent for the macabre humor and absurdity that it takes to describe the loss of someone you cannot bear to lose. (There is also, much to my delighted surprise, quite a bit of sex in the book.) On more than one occasion, I found myself crying and then immediately laughing out loud ... I was afraid Newman’s book would break my heart, and I was right. But it was a good break — the kind of break that breaks you open. And it also made me laugh (and sometimes, laugh-sob). The thing is — life is at times completely, utterly unbearable. It is just absolutely not endurable. Who thought this up?
Compulsively readable and tenderly hilarious ... We All Want Impossible Things is one more reminder of Newman’s characteristic blend of self-deprecation and openheartedness ... The book doesn’t pretend or indeed attempt to resolve grief but watches it with warm eyes, invites its readers into grief’s impossibilities without false comfort but with unremitting gentleness ... I wasn’t sure I could read another book about another woman besieged by cancer, another unspeakable loss ... But the novel buoyed me up instead.
Relies mainly on the narrative voice and memories of Edi’s childhood friend, Ash. That works powerfully, except when it doesn’t ... When she’s honest about her deepest shame, grief, regret, jealousy, and love for Edi, Ash’s voice is unbearably compelling ... Ash’s voice for too much of We All Want Impossible Things is too cute, too aware of its own cleverness and crammed with nonstop one-liners. It’s fun for a few pages ... What saves this book, in addition to the passages of Ash’s powerful voice, are the characters. They are all original, fully imagined human beings, likable in different ways.
Moving ... Newman does a wonderful job channeling Ash’s sense of impending loss. Ash also keeps up a steady stream of wickedly wry observations ... Newman breathes ample life into this exquisite story of death and dying.
Ash makes for a unique and easy-to-love narrator, one who jokes about her own self-centeredness even as she devotes her time to helping her best friend. Newman is frank about the physical reality of cancer and explicitly shows how grueling it can be to care for a friend while watching them die ... Newman is also open and honest about how joy can commingle with grief and how happiness and gratitude can coexist with sorrow ... Newman perfectly captures the beauty and burden of caring for someone in their final moments while showing the gift of Edi and Ash’s once-in-a-lifetime friendship ... A warm and remarkably funny book about death and caregiving that will make readers laugh through their tears.