Review: We Come Apart
I read three books over Easter weekend. Three. I cannot remember the last time I read three books in one weekend and actually I’m not entirely sure how I managed it this particular weekend because man, I did a lot of things over Easter. So many of the things, roadtrips and walks and food and drink and family visits and fun on the park and somehow in amongst all of that I still squeezed in three whole books.
Clearly reading is my superpower and WHY DO I NOT HAVE THAT ON A TSHIRT ALREADY? Next stop: Redbubble.
Soooooooooo. This post was going to be a bookish catch up post because that seemed to make the most sense to me right now except that when I sat down and started talking about We Come Apart I realised I had quite a bit to say and that if I had the same amount to say about the other two than this post would be wordy. So I’m not going to talk about them all right now other than to say that all three of these books were good books and I have things to say about them all.
I started my grand Easter read off of the back of Six of Crows which I’m going to come back to later in another post, because it’s like a magical Hustle and I love it, and none of these Easter reads were anything even remotely like that in any way so it was kind of refreshing. Mostly I am happy because they were all pretty different, from each other and from the other stuff I’ve been reading recently (like SoC) and that, I think, is totally a bonus. There’s so many books all of the time and I don’t like it when things get too samey. Which, granted when they do I can’t point the Evil Finger of Blame at anybody but myself because I am my own person and I make my own choices, choices including but not limited to what to read next, but still, it’s always better to have a variety and this weekend was totally a variety.
Anyhow, waffling is occurring and I’m pretty sure that’s a sure fire way to get people clicking off the page without reading any further, so wait! Please don’t go! I’m back on track now I promise. Get comfortable and chat with me please about Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan’s We Come Apart.
I came to Sarah Crossan in 2015 – you can read my review of One here if you wanna or if you didn’t here’s a summary: LOVED IT. As did other people because it won the Carnegie Medal last year. Whoop. So I did a bit of a chair shimmy when I spotted this little book. I liked it. In a similar way to One (and I wonder if this is Crossan’s thing) it’s narrated in verse. That, right off the bat, is a thing you should know that I enjoyed a whoooole lot. I loved it in One too (perhaps a little more there actually but that’s not the point) because it’s different. I like different. I like discovering stories in a shiny new way and poetry fascinates me really; I don’t read much of it, I always wish that I did but I don’t mostly because I actually have zero clue where to begin with it, so a book like this, I guess it’s kind of like a gateway… and I think that might be my favourite thing about this book. Pretty words are used prettily. GIVE ME ALL OF THAT.
The rest of it…I dunno, I have mixed emotions. I mean, mostly I liked it but it bugged me also.
As characters go, Nicu was lush. Seriously, this kid is totally adorable, with his broken English and his not being quite sure how to fit in and all of this shit that is following him around from all directions and how happy he is regardless, how he’s so determined to not let any of it get to him. He’s a regular little Pollyanna which just made me love him harder and when you put him next to Jess (who, for the record is much less adorable) you cannot help but want to squish his little face.
Jess however is a bit of a dick, a dick who’s having a rough time and who you also feel terrible for and I have a whole shedload of feelings about her situation that I am not going to get into because ouch and yes you absolutely want to love and protect her but still. Dick.
The story between the two of them is a little bit insta-love, but I am not knocking off points for that even though I normally would because, well because I don't want to frankly. See above point about being my own person. Also this is a teeny small book so you know, I guess it kind of makes sense.
The actual story itself is good and I liked it (apart from the ending which made me a little bit WTF and not in a good Sarah Pinborough way but in an actual genuine ‘WTF but why’ way because I DO NOT ONLY WANT HALF A HAPPY ENDING.
Actually not even half a happy ending.
A quarter happy ending.
That’s what this book gave me, a quarter happy ending and it’s a problem for me that because I really don’t like getting invested in a book and then feeling dissatisfied by the ending. If an ending is even what it was. I think I just want resolution. Which is a tick in the ‘this book was good column’ because it totally made me care) and it’s lovely, the way it unravels.
I wonder how Crossan and Conaghan put it all together actually; I suspect one wrote Jess’s voice and the other Nicu’s because they’re so very distinct…whatever it is though, it works. Their voices gel well together.
It’s very well-timed this book, what with the way the world is at the moment (and what the world is, is fucked up)
It’s incredibly relevant and pitched nicely, so as not to be preachy you know. It doesn’t ram any kind of message down your throat. It’s this story about these two teenagers who have shitty home lives finding each other and deciding they want things to be different. The fact that one of them, Nicu, is a Romanian is just there you know? Rather than being a book with an important message about immigrants and racism, it’s a book about two messed up kids, one who just happens to be from someplace else. Which actually no, that’s not right because racism is a major theme here. It’s such a massive part of Nicu’s story and it matters; Nicu was the target of a shit load of racism and that made my blood boil because people are fuckwits are they not? Am I contradicting myself? I hate when I do that. I think what I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t feel like a lecture, like Nicu is a token character to get a message across. It’s subtler than that and somehow more powerful for that subtlety? It’s kind of a quiet feeling of hopelessness almost, that sneaks up on you. Again: liked that.
I did like it, I did, I just….the ending. THE ENDING.
We Come Apart was published earlier this year which means you can get your paws on a copy right now. Go forth. And then come back and talk to me about whether you liked it and how adorable Nicu is and how you feel about books that are not formatted the way other books are. Let's chat.