We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan is a brand-new title from Bloomsbury Publishing this month. Having been asked recently to make some suggestions of YA and teen books especially for reluctant readers, I thought it would be the perfect time to read and review this.
The story is written from two different perspectives; Jess, a troubled teen that lives with her mum and mum’s boyfriend, Terry, and Nicu who has recently come to live in London with some of his family from Romania. Both characters come from completely different backgrounds, but are both finding life a struggle.
The story opens on Jess being caught shop-lifting again, we straight away learn that her friends aren’t the best as they let her take the blame when the security guard comes after them. It’s not her first offense so she ends up in a community program, litter picking on Saturdays and attending sessions with a social worker. This is where she meets Nicu, who was also caught stealing. Nicu’s English is very poor and at first Jess can’t imagine why they would be friends but soon she finds herself waiting for him in the morning, helping him with his English and when the program finishes she still wants to hang out. Nicu can’t believe is luck, Jess wants to be his friend. They start going to the cinema, going ice skating and generally having a laugh. It makes life a little more bearable and when he’s being bullied at school and no one understands him, it doesn't seem so bad if he can just see Jess. But when Nicu’s parents try to send him back to Romania for an arranged marriage, and Jess can’t take any more of watching Terry abuse her mum the pair decide to runaway together.
This book really choked me up, I wasn’t expecting to become emotionally invested in it, but I found that I couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing it in one day! The text is written in a short diary entry style which would be great for reluctant readers who can be overwhelmed by large amounts of text. Although it’s technically shorter than your average YA novel, it’s just as powerful with very real characters and a relevant storyline. There are a lot of current references, and the book deals with some heavy issues including bulling, racism and domestic abuse. Nicu is such a sweet character, you cannot help but sympathise with him. Jess has been put in a terrible position at home and is struggling to stand up for herself or anyone else. By forming this unlikely friendship they have found salvation in each other.
Even whilst writing this I am still thinking about the story. On the back cover, it says “A story you’ll never forget” and I think they could be right. I would recommend this to teenagers that are looking for a book that’s full of emotion and real life relationships, that they can easily pick up and put down - but probably won’t want to once they get started.
Have you read We Come Apart? We'd love to hear what you thought, as always, feel free to comment.