I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
Also by this author: One
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on July 23rd 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Stories in Verse, Social Themes, Emigration & Immigration, Love & Romance, Bullying, Juvenile Nonfiction, Social Topics, General, Poetry, Social Issues
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Carrying just a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother are immigrating to England from Poland. Kasienka isn't the happiest girl in the world. At home, her mother is suffering from a broken heart as she searches for Kasienka's father. And at school, Kasienka is having trouble being the new girl and making friends. The only time she feels comforted is when she's swimming at the pool. But she can't quite shake the feeling that she's sinking. Until a new boy swims into her life, and she learns that there might be more than one way to stay afloat.
The Weight of Water is a coming-of-age story that deftly handles issues of immigration, alienation, and first love. Moving and poetically rendered, this novel-in-verse is the story of a young girl whose determination to find out who she is prevails.
I was lucky enough to have the privilege of attending a brunch held by Bloomsbury Children’s at BEA. Aside from the best donuts ever and some delicious mimosas, one of the more notable things about the breakfast was that we got to pick through some ARCs and the way awesome publicists told us a little bit about the books they were excited for — one that I specifically remember was Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange and the other was The Weight Of Water by Sarah Crossan. When I got home and saw that The Weight Of Water was on Netgalley, I immediately downloaded it and let it just sit on my Kindle, until recently when I was in the market for a short book to help me catch up on my goodreads goal. Friends, The Weight Of Water took me an hour at most to read and packs a lot of good into such a brief read.
Kasienka has a pretty okay life in Poland. She has friends, she’s happy. When her father, her Tata, leaves her mother to go to England with barely a note, Kasienka’s mother decides to seek after him in England. Y’all, England was totally not what they were expecting. First, they have moved into a studio apartment and have to share a bed, which is awful. Kasienka does not like that everything is right out in the open. Also, the building they are in is filled with other immigrants and to Kasienka and her mom, those people are loud and nasty. It is even worse at school, because her english is not very good, Kasienka is held back and placed in the sixth grade class where she experiences profound boredom and also total loneliness. The Weight Of Water is all about how Kasienka comes of age and overcomes her loneliness.
I found Kasienka to be a resilient character. I mean, she’s kind of embarrassed because her mother emigrates with her not using luggage, but dirty laundry bags. The two basically have nothing, wearing old clothes and leaving much behind. They also eat very little. Her mother is treated like garbage at the hospital she works at because she doesn’t speak English very well and the patients want to hear an English voice. Yet, despite the social pain, Kasienka soldiers on. School for Kasienka is awful, she goes from sixth grade to seventh grade where this one girl in her class, Clair, is a total bully asshole. And it turns out that bullying people who are foreign isn’t a strictly American thing. However, Kasienka finds solace in math, swimming, and a special boy named Will.
One of the huge themes of The Weight Of Water is bullying, which I have mentioned several times already. At the very end of the book, in the acknowledgments section, Crossan mentions Odd Girl Out inspiring The Weight Of Water, and there’s even a section devoted to how girls bully in ways that are different from boys. I loved that she showed exclusionary tactics, rumor spreading and showed that bullying is a bit more insidious than wedgies and swirlies. I loved that Kasienka did not stoop to Clair’s level, but instead made friends with another outsider and kind of changed her attitude. She did not let it bring her down.
Finally, one thing you should know about The Weight Of Water is that it is written in verse style. I am not sure whether I would class the book as young adult or as middle grade, as there is quite a bit of talk about puberty and breasts and all that. I am not sure how a person would go about classifying this one, agewise. Kasienka is twelve and then thirteen in the book, but she’s dealing with some teenage things like a changing body and all that. Crossan’s verse was beautifully done and I am sure it’s quite a departure from her Breathe books that I haven’t read yet but am definitely going to try sooner rather than later. Although Kasienka’s situation is unique to her, there’s universal themes that many kids can relate to: bullying, the value of a sport, puberty, family woes, and first love.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher