Review: The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
Ever since reading One I have been slightly enchanted by Sarah Crossan's novels, which are all told in verse. When I saw her first novel, The Weight of Water at a bookshop recently, I just knew that I had to buy it. The Weight of Water tells the story of Kasienka who has come from Poland to England with her Mama. Together, they are searching for her Tata (father) who walked out on the family two years before. Living in a studio flat, the pair try to adjust to their new life, a new job, a new school and a heartbreaking discovery about where Tata has been all this time.
There are little moments that can be celebrated, no matter how tough life can get, and this novel focuses on those moments. While the author show's Kasienka's struggles at school, first with the teachers wrong assumptions about her academic ability (placing her in a lower grade than is necessary,) and then with a bully, we also see her blossoming relationship with William and her remarkable athletic achievements on the school swim team. (Hence the title, it is the weight of water that keeps her afloat, or it's her troubles that make her such a strong swimmer.) And though her relationship with her Mama is often difficulties, we see just how much she loves her, and her sense of right and wrong, when she refuses Tata's offer of a 'better' home and life. While combined, the verses tell a longer story, each chapter tells a smaller one, sometimes focusing on a small moment of happiness or triumph, or a moment of sadness--in other words, it focuses on the small events that shape the characters, rather than one big, traumatic event. I liked that.
Short enough to be read in a single sitting, this one is a beautifully written tale of a strong and smart young woman.