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The Weight of Water

Review

The Weight of Water

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of reading a Sarah Crossan book, let me have the pleasure of introducing you. Sarah Crossan's novels are like a gentle breeze that tickles the back of your neck and makes gooseflesh burst all over your arms and legs. Her novels are like that bittersweet feeling you get when you leave something important and finished behind --- happy to have had the experience, sad that's over. I don't know how she does it but every Sarah Crossan novel I've read has made me so warm and content and hopeful.

THE WEIGHT OF WATER just so happens to be one of her first novels in verse. Set in northern England, the book follows Kasienka and her mother as they leave England in search of her father who has left without explanation. Uprooting as a 13-year-old, Kasienka is forced to hide how intelligent she in a lower grade just because she struggles with the language. Her mother can only focus on the task of finding her father, even if he doesn't want to be found and all the students in her class treat her like a pariah.

"Sarah Crossan captured not only the experience of being bullied...but also the immigrant experience....I'm so grateful that Sarah Crossan can share her incredible voice with us"

 

When Kasienka is allowed to advance to a higher grade, she meets Clair, a popular girl who latches on to “Cassie’s” athletic abilities. Kasienka believes she has finally found a friend and is happy to have been accepted, despite the fact that her mother is still consumed by her father’s absence and they only live in a one bed room in a rundown building.

Kasienka also finds a way to escape through swimming. It's where William, a popular older boy notices her. And after William, a popular boy that Clair likes, ignores her in favor of Cassie, Clair begins a relentless bullying campaign that doesn't let up until Cassie is forced to make her stop.

So much happens in this verse novel. It was such a great reading experience to see her develop from the first poem on. I loved the way Kasienka grew into a timid young girl, clinging to her mother’s hand as they landed in England into the teenager who isn't afraid to stand up to herself --- even if that means that she has to stand out and not be as accepted as she hoped.

My heart broke so much for Kasienka; far away from home, struggling to be brave while her mother falls apart, unable to unburden herself of the bullying when she got home because her mother wasn't able to deal with it. It was wonderful to see her stand up for herself and also find small ways to be happy in any way she could. This story could have been bleak but it wasn’t. It followed the theme --- one of enduring hope --- that I've come to know from Crossan’s novels. Even in the darkest parts of the story (and some of her books can get a bit dark), the hope is visible and leaves the reader feeling like the characters really do live on when they finish with the book. Oftentimes, I find that her novels are too short for all I want to know about the characters. THE WEIGHT OF WATER was no exception.

Sarah Crossan captured not only the experience of being bullied and a hard parental separation so well but I think also the immigrant experience. I'm not an immigrant but I do pay attention to immigrant stories and I felt so much throughout this book for the immigrants of the past, present and future that I want to give this to everyone who might not understand what these people feel like when they leave their homes. I think it should be required reading in school. I hope parents and teachers and young people can read this and it can open up discussion and also introduce them to other similar stories as well --- fiction and nonfiction.

I'm so grateful that Sarah Crossan can share her incredible voice with us. It’s so beautiful and hopeful and I can't wait for more of what future stories she has in store for us.

Reviewed by Brianna Robinson on May 29, 2018

The Weight of Water
by Sarah Crossan