The Jakarta Post
In incorporating various themes, namely child abuse, racism, immigration, arranged marriage and bullying, 'We Come Apart' is an emotional roller coaster in the form of a verse book. (JP/Devina Heriyanto)
Sarah Crossan received the 2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal for her novel about conjoined twins, One. Brian Conaghan bagged the Costa children’s book award for The Bombs That Brought Us Together. The two of them are co-authors of We Come Apart, an atypical teenage romance book.
In incorporating various themes, namely child abuse, racism, immigration, arranged marriage and bullying, We Come Apart is an emotional roller coaster in the form of a verse book. The story flows faster than usual novels, and while it is a bit strange to read, it’s quick to get used to it.
Being a dual narrative, the book depicts the story of Jess and Nicu, two incredibly different people who met at the unlikeliest of places and became unlikely friends.
Jess is a girl with a very difficult home life and step-father who is abusive to both her and her mother. She has an older brother who ran away from home to avoid the step-father. While Jess could have taken the same option, she chose not to do so as she did not want to leave her mother behind.
Sarcastic, solitary and pretty, Jess runs around with the popular students at her school who do not know what her life at home is like. While it is hard to relate with Jess, it is easy to sympathize with her because of her home life.
Nicu is an immigrant from Romania. He transferred to Jess’ school, where he is bullied by teachers and students because of his background. Sweet and naive, Nicu tries hard to fit in.
It is very easy to adore Nicu. To make his story more realistic, the authors wrote his dialogue in broken English.
Nicu and Jess meet in a reparation scheme as the two of them had been caught shoplifting. For Nicu, it is love at first sight. He wants to know more about Jess and befriend her. However, Jess takes a little longer to trust Nicu, although she is quite curious about him too.
After a while, both of them hit it off as good friends.
The friendship that eventually turns into love in this book seems natural. In a mix of puppy love and complete fluff, the two of them find themselves completely attracted to each other, discovering a reason to fight against their demons: Jess continues to deal with her abusive step-father while Nicu deals with his parents, who are working on an arranged marriage for him.
They find solace within each other, finding a way to run away from their problems with the time they spend together.
Well-written and interesting at the beginning, the book becomes quite choppy at the end, with a predictable ending.
We Come Apart is recommended for those looking for a quick and entertaining read. Rossan’s previous award-winning book is also worth a read. (ely/mut)