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?
This bold and original novel had me from the word go.
Like Crossan’s previous novel, One, We Come Apart is written in free verse, this time alternating between the two characters, with both authors writing a character part each. Conaghan tells of the story of Nicu, a lovable Romanian immigrant who has recently moved to London with his parents, whilst Crossan tells the story of Jess, a troubled teenager dealing with all sorts of horrors at home. The two are an unlikely couple on the face of it, but through a journey of shared stories and secrets they grow ever closer. As with One, I love that the use of free verse means you do not get weighed down by the details of setting and superfluous details but are fully immersed in the here and now. As such, you experience Nicu and Jess’s every emotion and get emotionally drawn into their journey, waiting, until the very final page to find out if there will be a happy ever after. Like me, you may find that you simply cannot put it down and devour the whole book in one sitting, so strong is the need to find out how it ends!
What I loved most about this novel is that it is so much more than a tale of star crossed lovers. Teenagers demand so much more than predictable stories nowadays; they want to be challenged and enlightened and We Come Apart does just that. Current events have clearly impacted the writing with the portrayal of Nicu’s experiences of racism and hostility making you shudder as a reader, in particular when at the hands of a teacher. Similarly, Jess’s experiences of domestic violence make you want to shout and rage. That is not to say that this novel is all doom and gloom. The beautifully crafted writing is, in itself a joy to read, and the lovable Nicu is both endearing and funny and brings a lighter side to the novel.
Hats off to both Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan for his hugely successful collaboration. I look forward to seeing what these two giant talents of YA will do next.