Saturday, February 13, 2016

Book Review: The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan

Release date: December 25, 2011
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Pages: 241
Purchase links: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother head for England. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mother's heart is breaking and at school friends are scarce. But when someone special swims into her life, Kasienka learns that there might be more than one way for her to stay afloat.

The Weight of Water is a startlingly original piece of fiction; most simply a brilliant coming of age story, it also tackles the alienation experienced by many young immigrants. Moving, unsentimental and utterly page-turning, we meet and share the experiences of a remarkable girl who shows us how quiet courage prevails.

I picked up The Weight of Water because I was looking for a short book that I could read while traveling home. I always read novels narrated in prose quite quickly, and this was not an exception.

Kasienka travels from Poland to England in search of her father. Her mother is heartbroken, but determined to find her husband. Moving to a new country is not quite as glamorous as one could expect, at least not for Kasienka. She leaves Poland with her mother, their clothes stuffed into laundry bags. Their apartment is only one room and they have to share a bed.

A new country also means a new school. School is not quite what Kasienka expected either. The other students look at her warily, she seems invisible to the teachers, and even though she tries desperately to fit in, her attempts do not succeed. But then she meets a boy who really seems to her, and things get at least a little bit easier.

The issue of immigration and the experiences of those leaving their homes and entering new countries is extremely relevant at the moment. Diversity in young adult fiction has also been a much discussed topic in the recent months, and for someone looking for a diverse YA read, this one is definitely worth a consideration. It was extremely interesting to read a novel through the eyes of an immigrant and someone who enters a new country with hopes and dreams, but becomes to realize that is not really what she imagined.

The relationship between Kasienka and her mother is complicated and feels very real. Though they have both lost the same man, their feelings toward that loss are very different. There are a couple of very poignant pieces of verse in this novel that perfectly capture the divide between the generations, and as I kept reading, those parts quickly became my favorites.

There is an element of romance found from the story, but it is not really the main focus of it. The romance does add an element in to the story through which Kasienka begins her process of integration into her new home and her new life. The relationship between Kasienka and the students at her class is something I wished there would have been more of, to be completely honest.

The entirety of The Weight of Water is narrated in verse, which I know might be a no-no for some readers. Though I do not read verse novels very often, I did really like this one. But despite the fact that I enjoyed it while reading it, I feel like it did not really leave that big of an impression on me. It is because of that I gave it only a mediocre rating compared to an excellent one.

If you are looking for a quick, diverse read, you should take The Weight of Water into consideration. Also, despite the fact that I wasn't overly impressed by this one, it made me want to pick up something else by Crossan, like her recent release One. 

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