I was vaguely aware of this book when it was released earlier in the year, although I can't quite remember where I heard about it or saw it specifically. It caught my interest because it is a verse novel, and I do honestly enjoy them, but also because it has two authors, which is rather unusual. I bought it when I was in Sydney in November and snapped it up at Basement Books on sale.
Sarah and Brian talk about collaborating
I was aware of both authors before this book. I've read a few of Sarah Crossan's books before. One (see my review). The Weight of Water. Moonrise, definitely my favourite so far (see my review), which means that Sarah has released two amazing verse novels this year. Brian Conaghan wrote The Bombs That Brought Us Together which I've bought (twice), but not yet read.
We Come Apart is set in North London. Jess Clarke lives with her mother and stepfather, there are troubles at home and Jess has just been caught shoplifting and is ordered to attend a reparation scheme for 3 months of community service. At community service she meets Nicu Gabor, a Romanian boy who has recently come to London with his parents who has also been caught shoplifting. It's rather a grim life for both of them.
I bet they don't live on grey estates
and eat Mars Bars for breakfast.
The story is told in alternating chapters of Jess and Nicu's voices. It's really well integrated, really well done. Although I'm not sure about Nicu's voice. Naturally, Nicu doesn't have perfect English, and his chapters are written in stilted and incorrect language, which feels authentic but which made the reading voice in my head sound like Borat (yes I know, he's from Kazakhstan).
Many peoples with much miserable in their heart,
many peoples with little monies,
smoking in huddle group,
chatting in small circle.
Everyone watching everyone do same things.
Peoples with no place to go for laughing and be
Same as my old village.
The atmospheres, buildings and peoples
in London North
is like giant rainbow.
not beautiful colours
with golden treasure at end.
Is the rainbow with
white to grey to brown to black.
But that is a minor quibble perhaps - even though it does make up half the book. Nico has a kind heart. The story swept me along and I read it in a few short days, even reading some before succumbing to the somewhat inevitable nap post Christmas lunch.
We Come Apart has lots of great themes. Domestic Violence. Bullying. Hopelessness. Racism. Friendship. Love. Family obligation, and the differences of family expectations in different cultures.
I can't put on a brave face and pretend that
at the end of this
things will be different.
Maybe for him they will be.
But for me
Nothing's ever going to change.
Of course Nicu does change things for Jess, but not in the way she, or I, expected. We Come Apart is Highly Recommended.