Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan **Review**

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
Series: None
Pages: 228
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release date: January 5th 2012
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Waterstones | Amazon US
Thank you to Bloomsbury for my review copy

Goodreads synopsis:
Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother leave Poland and head for the UK to find her father. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mother's heart is breaking and at school Kasienka finds it impossible to make new friends. While the search continues, Kasienka is kept afloat by William, a boy she meets at the local pool who understands what it means to lose someone and who swims with Kasienka towards her new life.

When I received this book to review from Bloomsbury, I knew it would be entirely different from anything I've read before - poetry and prose alike. In the press release that I received with the book, one of the first things it says about the book is: "The line between poetry and fiction blurs in this startlingly original book. Crossan deftly tackles subjects of immigration and bullying through her narrator Kasienka". When I read this, I'll admit that I may have been a little skeptical, as you may be, now knowing that the book is a collection of poems - but this skepticism was unnecessary; I absolutely loved it, and I implore you to try it!

This book definitely has a lot to say, not just about the issues it deals with, but also about popular literary forms. I always feel as though poetry has certain labels attached to it, particularly with teenagers - I find that a lot of teens associate it with school and academic study, but not as something that they would read for pleasure. Crossan shows though, that poetry can not only be understandable and non-threatening, but also fun to read and as poignant as any novel.
The poems flowed really well from one into another, so the story didn't feel broken or disjointed at any stage, but it was still easy to dip in and out of the book as I needed to.

Kasienka was a wonderful narrator - she made the poetry feel less like verse and more like a series of diary entries or a stream of consciousness. Through the intimacy of the poetic form, the reader is allowed further into Kasienka's thoughts, and given a deeper understanding of her feelings, than I think could have been communicated through prose. It was wonderful being able to watch her life evolve, moving from poem to poem, and being able to experience this with her. The poetry evokes such power emotions, that by the end of the collection, it's easy to believe in her story of pain, struggle and unshaken optimism and courage.
As someone who has grown up in and lived in Britain all my life, it gave me an opportunity to see life in this country from a different perspective, and begin to understand what it must be like for a young person moving into Britain and being forced to try to adapt.
Kasienka shows such courage and strength of character, despite her awful situation, that she becomes a great figure of inspiration by the end of the collection.

Although for me this is not a particularly important aspect of a book, I feel it must be mentioned; the book's cover art is, in my opinion, really attractive. Having worked in a bookshop for two years now, I have learned to recognise the styles of some of the major children's illustrators, so I was excited to receive a book like this, illustrated by the wonderful Oliver Jeffers, whose book Lost and Found is one of the prettiest picture books I've seen in a long time.
As I said, I don't feel that the cover art is usually an important part of the book, but I feel Oliver Jeffers is one worth mentioning.

Overall, I was surprised, after my initial expectations, by just how much I enjoyed reading this. It was beautiful, poignant, compelling and potent, and I think it will stay in my mind for quite some time yet. If you don't believe that a collection of poems could be this powerful, then definitely get yourself a copy and read it for yourself. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.


Chocolate Chunky Munkie said...

Great review Dani :D xx

Pen to Paper said...

Thanks Jen! I may review it over the weekend and see if there is anything I want to add to it or change. Like I said, it's left me thinking :)

I think you'd enjoy this one! It's definitely something different!


Megan said...

I've been seeing this book around everywhere! Sounds so good, can't wait to read it soon!

Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

Miri said...

Sounds like an awesome book. I always look for little links between the story and me and as the protagonist comes from Poland I think this definitely reminds me of my family (both my grandmothers and our au pair we had when I was a kid are from Poland). This book is definitely going to be in my to read-list. Thanks for reviewing :)

Mad book Worm said...

I've been hearing bout this books everywhere!Gonna check it out soon.

Lecea said...

Great review! The book does sound very original - not just in its delivery but also in its simple (yet beautiful!) cover.

Adriana C said...

Is the first time that I heard of it, but sound interesting.
great review!

Emily said...

Great Review! I haven't heard of this before, but i'll have to check it out. ^^

Linda Henderson said...

I have never heard of this book. It really isn't my kind of read, but I think my daughter might like it. I'll be telling her about it.

IdentitySeeker said...

This does seem like a beautiful read- both in cover and content. I spent most of my teens shying away from poetry because I associated it with academics. However, while taking an English Lit course at university, I learned to appreciate the beauty in it. Thanks for sharing this book with us:)

Sarah Bibi Setar

Vanessa Buzeta said...

I love your review. This book seems really good, I'll be sure to check it out. I've always been a fan of poetry.

Christina Fiorelli said...

This sounds like such a touching novel! I love how you get a different perspective, of someone who's looking for her way forward, and it's interesting how it's almost poetry!

PuttPutt1198Eve said...

I would never have picked up this book if I hadn't read your review. I'm not a big fan of poetry because I associate it with something that is hard to understand. Your review explained to me that the author made the poems flow together enough that it almost seems like a journal or "stream of consciousness" writing. Maybe now I could pick the book up without thinking I could never understand it. Thanks!

Jaime Lester said...

This sounds so, so good! If I had seen this in my library though, before your review, I probably wouldn't have brought it home because of the writing style. I have only read one other book like that, and it wasn't really done well enough for me to love it. Therefore, ever since, I have been hesitant to read others. Thanks for your review of Weight of Water. Now I won't pass up a great read if I ever come across it.

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