Title: We Come Apart
Author: Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
UK Release Date: 9th February 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Poetry
From two acclaimed authors comes an emotional story told in verse about friendship, love, and overcoming unbeatable odds.
Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.
Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?
For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.
I was very excited when I was browsing in my local library and came across this book, especially seeing as it came out this year (yay for the library ordering in lots of lovely new books!), as I’ve enjoyed books by both Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan before. While it didn’t quite live up to my expectations (which were admittedly pretty high), I still enjoyed it a fair bit, and it was nice to read a novel in verse form again.
There were two main things I liked about this book, and they were the use of verse and Nicu in the beginning. I read One by Sarah Crossan in September 2015, and I honestly don’t think I’ve read another book which uses verse since then, so it was lovely to return to that style, particularly as Crossan writes so beautifully. I did have to get used to it though, and there was a slight bit of confusion for me as each chapter alternated between Jess and Nicu but there was no indication that it was doing this. I was very aware that it was a split perspective, co-authored book – it was even a part of the appeal of the book for me – so I worked it out and got into the swing of it pretty quickly, but someone who didn’t know this would be very confused for a while!
I also really loved Nicu’s character in the beginning of the book. He was so sweet and gentle and tender hearted that I really couldn’t help but love him. The way he treated others only made me like him more; he was very sensitive towards Jess, and he didn’t react to the bullying he was subject to. I hated seeing how he was treated because he was an immigrant, and that part of the book was very topical. I thought it gave a really important message to the readers, and was a valuable part of the book. However, I didn’t like how his character developed, nor did I like the effect Jess had on him. I understand that Jess had a difficult time at home, and my heart broke for her in some of the more difficult bits, but on the whole I just really didn’t warm to her character at all.
The ending of the book, to be completely honest, left me confused and kind of annoyed. As I got nearer the end, I started to feel a bit worried, as there were issues that needed to be resolved, and nothing was really happening that I could see having a clear sense of resolution. When I turned the final page, I was disappointed, as I wouldn’t say it was much of an ending. There were so many problems that the characters had to face, and I think it could have easily taken an extra 100 pages to bring everything to a close. Instead, the book ended on a point that just left me dissatisfied and frustrated.
Overall, I enjoyed revisiting free verse as a style, and I liked both Nicu and the message that the authors sent in their portrayal of the struggle he faced being an immigrant – I think that there was an important insight that readers could take away from We Come Apart. However, I didn’t really warm to Jess, and I was highly dissatisfied with the ending, so on the whole I enjoyed it a little, but not as much as I’d hoped to.
Trigger warning for: domestic abuse.