Monday, 6 October 2014
I got this book from this handy new shelf in school where you can just take one whenever, and I was looking forward to it. Then I opened it and saw that it was written entirely in verse. I almost put it back. Novels made of poems weird me out, I guess. But I got used to it, and the book took about an hour to finish.
The Weight of Water is about Kasienka, a twelve-year-old girl who has emigrated from Poland to England with her mother ("Mama") in search of her disappeared father. They're in a one-room studio struggling to get by while Mama refuses to give up on the search for Kasienka's father ("Tata"). Kasienka is enrolled in a nearby school and has to deal with isolation and bullying as the story goes on.
Kasienka finds refuge in swimming (thus the title) and in a boy in the Year above her, William, who takes a liking to her. At first she's put into a class a year younger than she needs just because she's an immigrant, but they move her up after exams, which was a detail I liked. About midway through, her neighbour Kanoro locates her father - but Tata's living with a new family in a nice suburban house and doesn't want to come back home, though he and his wife do let Kasienka stay at theirs some afternoons. When they see the squalor Kasienka's living in in the studio, his new wife even offers to let her live with them indefinitely. She struggles with it, but says no out of loyalty to Mama.
I couldn't really identify with Kasienka because she's twelve and in such a different situation to me. So I might put it in upper MG rather than YA.
Honestly, not much really happens in a book this short. The characterisation was good, especially of Kasienka and William, and we get a really good sense of Kasienka's emotions. I think the best part was the writing, which was lyrical and sparse and dainty and really just pleasant. If poetry works for any novel, it's probably this one.
I was left feeling pretty underwhelmed when I finished, though, because The Weight of Water doesn't seem to follow any strict narrative arc and rather just chugs along. Which is good while it lasts, but forgettable when it's over. In my opinion.
This was Sarah Crossan's debut, and I've reviewed another of her novels here (this one is YA dystopian, not in verse, and got a higher rating from me).
I'm holding off on reviewing Only Ever Yours until I find the words to express myself in a worthwhile manner.