Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

If you are looking for a book that will break your heart We Come Apart is most definitely it. Told completely in verse, the reader meets two very different characters. There is Jess, a tough London girl who is growing up in a violent household and who has a group of ratbag friends who trick her into taking the blame when they are caught shoplifting. And then there is Nicu, a gentle boy who is in England while his parents plan for his wedding back in Romania to a girl that he has never met. The pair find themselves working at the same Community Service programme. At the programme they form an alliance. At school, however, things are different. Jess is a part of the toughest crowd of kids. Nicu is the victim of bullying and racial abuse. As time goes on it becomes clear that each is the only person the other can trust. 

But what happens when it all goes wrong?

This was a heartbreaking read right from the first page. Although their circumstances are both teenagers are misunderstood, have no one they can rely on and bleak futures ahead of them. Neither author holds back as they show just how brutal the world can be for both of these kids, their attempts to fight back at injustice and the heartbreaking open ending. We know not what the future holds for these characters, only that nothing will be the same and that each had better put the lessons they have learned from the other to good use.

We Come Apart is an accomplished and well-written book. While it is not uplifting, it certainly offers some much needed perspective into the lives of people who are often dismissed as troublemakers and written off before their adult lives have even began. What does the future hold for Nicu, apart from probable prison time and deportation? Or do his actions toward Jess show that he now has a greater sense of how to survive and escape. And as for Jess, what will she do once the train reaches its destination? Does she have a chance of a new life? It is up to the reader to decide of course.

A compelling read.



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