Tuesday 14 February 2017

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

You have to be quick, 
none of this pretending to be browsing business
that some shoplifters go for. 

It's in
grab what you want
and out again. 

Published by Bloomsbury in January 2017
Pages - 324

Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.
Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess's home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?
For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they've turned the last page. 
I read this book about a month ago and it has taken me this long to decide how I feel about it and be able to put it in words. 
It's obvious from the first poem that every word has been meticulously chosen to create the atmosphere and tone of the story. This is something I've grown to expect from Sarah Crossan and it's refreshing to see it still works when in collaboration with Costa Award winning author, Brian Conaghan. 
The voices of Nicu and Jess are very distinct that I convinced that they were written individually be each author, with Sarah taking on Jess's voice and Brian taking on Nicu's.  Since hearing the two authors discussing the book at Waterstones in Brighton, I've discovered that this is not the case and there were times within the writing and editing stages that each author wrote for the other character, showing just how strongly in sync these authors were with the characters they were writing about. This verse novel is seamless. Both voices blend easily together, each pushing forward with the story, but with such distinct voices. 
Jess and Nicu both come from very different backgrounds. Each of them have struggles and their meeting creates a pivotal point in their lives. At times the poems were extremely emotional and very hard to read. Jess's voice especially hits hard when she describes events from home. Nicu has an innocence in his voice, which comes from his uncertainty and hope about the foreign country that is now his home. 
The ending killed me. It wouldn't have been an ending I would choose, but I tend to be full of hope and belief. However, I understand that the ending was right for the story. Real life doesn't always play out the way we would like it too and this book represents reality in it's harshest form. 
The verse novel is really growing on me and I wonder if these authors are opening the gates to more stories like this coming through. For reluctant readers, they are so easy to read. You find yourself half way through the book before you even realise. 
This is  a book that I will definitely be recommending. A heartbreaking rite of passage that changes two lives forever. 
I'd be really surprised if this book doesn't win awards in the future. 

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