The weight of water by Sarah Crossan
Bloomsbury, 2012. ISBN 978 1 4088 300 2.
(Ages: 12+) Recommended. Verse novel. A verse novel told in first person, of a woman and her daughter, Kasienka, who emigrate to Great Britain from Poland in their search for her husband and the girl's father who left two years before.
Through the one and two page chapters we read of the girl's anguish at leaving all she knows to go to a country where she finds herself isolated by her lack of English, relegated to a lower class to learn the language, friendless and alone. Her mother, similarly is isolated, despite finding work in the local hospital, where patients ask for someone who can speak English. Their next door neighbour becomes their only friend, an African doctor, forced to work at a menial job in a hospital to keep himself alive.
Mother has an amazing idea, to ask at every house for knowledge of her husband, and so a map of Coventry is used to work out their progress. Each day they take one street and knock on all the doors, as well as using their meagre funds to have copies of a notice with his details on it made, posting them up in the streets.
All the while, Cassie is putting up with bullying at school, as she tries to make friends, and develops a relationship with a boy, William, who she meets at the swimming pool. Swimming keeps her afloat in more ways than one. Her secret life is at odds with her mother's presumption that she is a good girl, and this all changes when their neighbour finds Tara, Cassie's father.
In small bites we are led into Cassie's world, fighting discrimination and bullying, coping with a distracted mother, ignorant teachers and an alien world. The brief lines encapsulate her feelings and emotions as we see all that happens through her eyes. The power of these short phrases to expose this young girl's life is extraordinary and will intrigue secondary girls, who will delight in taking this beautifully presented little hardback book with its wrap around cover to their hearts.