The Weight of Water – Sarah Crossan
Middle Grade – Fiction
This was a book to savour.
To be fair, I love books in verse – if there’s a point to the verse. I also think that books in verse are very tempting for reluctant readers. Those sparse looking pages are much less confronting, and there’s a real sense of achievement when the book is easily completed for readers who may not often actually finish a book. As soon as I finished it, I gave it to a Year 8 girl in one of my English classes (not a keen reader – but s swimmer) and she loved it!
However, there’s much more to this book than being a relatively fast read, because it is weighty… it has beautiful moments. Kasienka is Polish. About a year ago her father suddenly left her, her mother and Poland – and went to London. Filled with grief, Kasienka’s mother is determined to find him and work things out. But, Kasienka finds that England is not what she expected. There are wonderful passages where she talks about expecting to be different, but not in the way that she is regarded as different at school. Bullying is there, but in the background, described and awful, but certainly not the only thing going on in Kasienka’s life:
They are hunting,
Circling to prevent my escape.
They yap and snuffle,
Jostling to be close to Clair,
Covering their mouths
To stifle their laughter.
I am a fox surrounded by beagles.
They will eat me alive and spit out the fat.
I am their prey and there is nothing
I can do to stop them pouncing.
I also think that one of the wonderful things about verse is that it spotlights moments that are representative – the effect is sort of like a montage, but with a wonderful clarity in each moment that we see. Each poem stands on its own, which I think is important for books in verse:
When I am in the water
My body moves like a wave:
There is a violence to it
And a beauty
The space around each verse allows the reader time to contemplate – to pause for thought, and to allow ideas to sink in. This is also a coming of age story. Kasienka meets William at the local pool and their story quietly and quite naturally evolves.
If you enjoyed…
- The One and Only Ivan
- Sweetgrass Basket
- Love That Dog
then you might like this book.