Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Weight of Water

by Sarah Crossan

The plot of Crossan’s novel is not complicated: Kasienka is a young teenage girl and this is the story of how her new life in England after having moved with her mother from Poland. Crossan writes from Kasienka’s point of view, describing the prejudice aimed towards her and other difficulties she encounters. But when someone special enters her life it gives her new hope; although her family situation and a stream of problems coming her way more than counteract this.

But there is one key difference with this novel, it is written entirely in verse.

At first I was worried because nine out of the ten poems I read I do not like. I was concerned that the novel would be un-engaging and the poetry would separate us from the plot and characters, but I was very wrong.
Somehow the poetry flowed as if I were reading a novel. Each poem moves the story forward but there was a different focus to different to each of them, like chapters. I found myself just wanting to read on and on and I was genuinely interested in Kasienka’s life. I particularly liked how when she described how an adult had spoken to her very slowly and the frustration she feels from the fact that she is treated as if she has lesser intelligence than the people around her.

Kasienka and the characters which surrounded her were very believable and the poem helped Kasienka’s feelings to be described in a very simple but emotional way and I felt that I could not help but sympathise with Kasienka’s sadder situations and be happy for Kasienka in the more positive events. Someone also pointed out to me that the fact simple poetry is used mirrors the limited language Kasienka possesses - either way the poetry definitely adds to our understanding of her feelings.

Of all the writing, I could not fault it, I thought there was a perfect balance of realism and intrigue to the Weight of Water which made it so readable. The characters were presented in such a way from Kasienka's point of view that I judged them and immediately believed in them. In fact the only criticism I would have is that the ending came all too soon. Because of the way the poems were written the book was very short anyway, and I wanted to have a more final ending which did not leave it so open.

However, overall, ‘The Weight of Water’ is an excellently written book, and if all of the books in the shortlist are of this quality then it is going to be a very hard decision to narrow down a winner.

By Nathan, Yr 10

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