But damn if Sarah Crossan doesn ‘t manage to pull it off.
Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to get an early copy of One for review and the depth of emotion told in so few words completely astounded me and had me hooked on Crossan’s work.
I didn’t realise The Weight of Water was another free verse book, but after reading One it wouldn’t have put me off. And again, it completely works on so many levels: the lyrical descriptions of new life in England combined with her limited grasp of English ... it’s just spot on.
Briefly, The Weight of Water is the story of a Polish girl, Kasienka, and her mother who arrive in England to try to find Kasienka’s dad, who has abandoned them. They head, rather inauspiciously, for Coventry ending up in a bedsit while Kasienka attends the local school. She feels horribly out of place and is subjected to bullying and exclusion and the only place she feels at home is in the water, swimming.
Even though this is a book probably aimed at younger YAs (the protagonist is thirteen) it has a some themes and messages about bullying, outsiders and loneliness that are relevant to everyone. As Crossan shows, bullying doesn’t have to be physical and it doesn’t even have to be words. It can be deliberate exclusion, whispers behind hands and pointed looks. I really liked how Kasienka grew over the course of what is a very short book (I finished it in one afternoon) and realised that her behaviour towards new people when she was socially secure back home in Poland wasn’t exactly exemplary.
Totally going to be looking out for more work by Sarah Crossan.