Book Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

We Come Apart book cover

Details

Title: We Come Apart
Author: Sarah Crossan, Brian Conaghan
Published in: 2017
Pages: 320
Genres: realistic fiction, contemporary fiction, romance, poetry

Summary

“From two acclaimed authors comes an emotional story told in verse about friendship, love, and overcoming unbeatable odds.

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?
For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.”

-from Goodreads

My Review

We Come Apart is about Jess and Nicu, who meet each other while doing community service for shoplifting. Tess appears to be a strong, confident, rebellious girl, but at home her stepfather Terry abuses her mother and often forces her to watch and record it. Nicu has immigrated from Romania to England and is only there so his parents can make enough money to find him a Romanian wife.

When they first meet in community service, Jess doesn’t want anything to do with Nicu. She thinks she’s not like him and that he won’t understand. But he does. Even though he doesn’t understand English very well, he understands that something is wrong. Jess realizes this one day when Nicu hangs out with her in the park. From then on, they become friends and then more than friends.

This novel, written in verse, was told in dual perspective between Jess and Nicu. English isn’t Nicu’s first language and that is shown in his parts of the book. In the parts that he narrates, the English is broken and hard to understand. I thought there were other ways the author could’ve chosen to represent that instead of writing all of Nicu’s parts like that. It made those parts more difficult to understand, which became frustrating.

We Come Apart is a contemporary romance, but that doesn’t mean it’s just a cute romance. It included the subjects of abuse, racism, xenophobia, and bullying among others. Like I said in a previous paragraph, Jess’s stepfather is abusive, but not towards her. He’s only abusive towards her mother and her mother isn’t willing to leave him. Jess won’t stand up for her mother because it only makes him angrier, which causes him to become more abusive towards her mother.

Nicu faces racism, xenophobia, and bullying at school as well as nearly everywhere else. At school, other students harass him, call him a gypsy among other names, and write hateful messages on his books. People in general have a prejudice against him, which is not helped by the fact that he now has a criminal record for shoplifting. It’s shown that Jess’s so called “friends” and her stepfather are among those people. Jess was one of the only ones who saw beyond his ethnicity and his broken English to see him for him, though she struggled to stand up for him at first.

I thought their romance was sweet. At first Jess didn’t want to go on a real date with Nicu and only wanted to hang out, but eventually she did. They spent their community service time together and when they were finished with that, they hung out together in their free time. It was like they were the only ones who understood each other.

SPOILER (I’m going to try to include spoiler warnings in my reviews from now on)

I didn’t like the ending. I don’t think it wrapped up the story well enough and I still have a lot of questions that I feel should be answered. I’m still getting used to endings that aren’t happy, but I don’t mind them too much if the ending is written enough since they’re more realistic.

The novel ends with Jess and Nicu deciding to run away. On the day they choose to do so, a series of incidents happen that causes things to not go according to their plan. At the last minute Nicu decides that Jess could have a normal life if it weren’t for him and doesn’t get on the train with her. As the train is getting ready to leave, he walks onto the platform and waves goodbye. I wished that he would’ve, but thought it was sweet that he did what he thought was best for her, even though he wanted to be with her.

After I finished reading, I thought there should’ve be an epilogue or something. I want to know what happens after that. What happens to Jess’s mother? The novel says that she ends up staying with a friend, but is that just for a few days? Is she going to go back to Terry? Is she going to press charges? What about Jess? She gets on the train, but is she really going to run away? Or is she going to go back to her mother? And what about Nicu? Did he go back to his parents? Did they return to Romania and marry him off to a Romanian girl at 15? Did the police catch him and send him to jail for stabbing Dan, even though it was self-defense? I have so many unanswered questions.

END OF SPOILER

Despite disliking the ending, I enjoyed reading We Come Apart.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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