Hello everyone! Today I’m here to share with you all a spoiler-free review of We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan. Thank you so much to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me an advanced reader’s copy of We Come Apart for review purposes.
We Come Apart is a young adult contemporary novel written in the perspectives of Jess and Nicu. It’s a collaborative novel written by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan that was birthed from the moment these two authors first met in 2015. We Come Apart is written in verse, and is a high-impact, high emotion story about star-crossed lovers and the forces that threaten to tear them apart.
We Come Apart (Goodreads): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31450906-we-come-apart
S U M M A R Y
We Come Apart follows the lives of Jessica Clarke and Nicu Gabor, two teenagers arrested for shoplifting and placed in the same community service group. To Jess, if her friends hadn’t left her in the lurch she would never have looked twice at Nicu, who’s all big eyes and ill-fitting clothes even when the two of them are picking up litter in the local park. Nicu isn’t Jess’ type, and appearances matter to Jess (who has a lot to hide). To Nicu, Jess is beautiful and the last thing that he wants is to take part in an arranged marriage back home in Romania. But unfortunately, Nicu’s father’s fists are a more powerful force in his life and in the end he knows that he’ll have to do what his dad wants.
We Come Apart handles a lot of heavy topics in the limited number of pages that it has. It doesn’t shy away from the everyday struggles of high school, home life and community service, but it also makes important social and political commentary on domestic violence, racism and immigration.
C H A R A C T E R S
There are a lot of characters in We Come Apart, including family, friends and community service officers (e.g. social workers). While we don’t see a lot of every character, we get enough of each of them to know who they are and to decide whether we enjoy them as a character. There were a few characters I enjoyed (e.g. Jess’ social worker), but there were a lot more that I really disliked (i.e. Jess’ entire circle of friends). There were characters that I disliked for obvious reasons (e.g. Terry), but there were also some that showed their true colours in a much more subtle way.
In We Come Apart we first meet Jess, an outspoken and courageous character who by the end is unafraid to stand up for who and what she believes in. At only 16, Jess has already established herself as a notorious shoplifter, and actively acts out against her teachers and community service support network. Jess has a lot of difficulties at school, not only with her teachers but also with her so-called “friends”, and on top of that Jess has a lot of trouble at home. Her older brother Liam left more than a year ago, her biological father left when she was a child and her mother continues to be physically and emotionally abused by her step-father Terry. While Jess struggles with her home life and school, and on top of that the debt owed to her community, she starts to form an unlikely alliance with Nicu.
Then we meet Nicu, a young and recent immigrant to England from Romania. Nicu moved to England with his mother and father in the hopes of earning enough money (quickly) to move back to Romania for Nicu’s soon-to-be arranged marriage. However, Nicu soon learns the difficulties of fitting into a new place, particularly one with such a strong language barrier. To the rest of London, Nicu is an alien and to Nicu, London (and the English language) is alien. He struggles with school and with the law, and as soon as his feelings for Jess begin to develop into more than just friendly feelings, he worries he’ll soon struggle to leave her behind.
I commend these authors for introducing cultural diversity with Nicu and the Gabor family, especially because I’d read almost nothing about Romania or Romanian culture before We Come Apart. However, I do wish there had been more cultural, sexual and/or other representation in this book.
W R I T I N G
We Come Apart is the first young adult novel written in verse that I’ve read, which made for an interesting reading experience. At the time that I read this novel I was at a holiday house with a group of almost 12 friends, all of whom were sitting around the small living area. A few of them were playing a videogame on the TV, and all of us were sat around them, almost like a small family, watching on with deep curiousity and fascination. When we disbanded, I picked up We Come Apart and started to read, and I felt instantly drawn into the story. It took no more than a few hours to read this book from cover to cover, and it was fast-paced enough to propel the story even further.
I enjoyed the writing style in We Come Apart at certain points, but at others I struggled. While I can appreciate how each author made each character’s voice very distinct and unique, Nicu’s chapters were disjointed and difficult to understand. Nicu’s inability to understand English presents a barrier at school and at community service, but it also presents a challenge to the reader who has to work to properly understand what it is he’s actually thinking and referring to in some scenes. I also found it a little bit convenient that Jess was able to easily understand Nicu after only a few weeks of knowing him, and that in turn Nicu is able to easily communicate with Jess without proper and formal teaching in the English language.
A small part of me also enjoyed the fact that each chapter had a really unique title to it that related to the content of that chapter, even if it was a few lines long.
O V E R A L L
Overall, I did enjoy We Come Apart and it took no more than three hours to finish it. However, I feel as though the format of We Come Apart significantly underwhelmed the actual plot of the novel. While I enjoyed the experience of reading a novel written in verse, I couldn’t help but feel that disconnect between myself and the lives of Jess and Nicu. I empathised with Nicu and felt angry for Jess, but overall their lives didn’t intercept mine, so there was always something inevitably standing between us.
I rated We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan 3.8 out of 5 on Goodreads.
Once again thank you so much to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a copy of We Come Apart to review. If you liked this review and are now interested in purchasing your own copy of this book, I’ll leave a few links down below.
We Come Apart is set to be released in Australia in March 2017.
Let me know if you’re interested in reading We Come Apart down below in the comments, and until next time, happy reading!
We Come Apart: