Racism In YA / REVIEW: We Come Apart - Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan


I've seen lots of people online talking about just how relevant this book is and the timing of its release couldn't be better. With Trump's stupid ban and Brexit causing increasing rate of race-related crimes and abuse, the young adult audience need to be made aware of the seriousness of these issues and the pain they cause.

Jess is a Year 10 student dealing with an abusive step-father. Often forced into filming her mother's torment, Jess knows that if she acts out it is her mum who will experience the punishment. Trapped and rebellious, Jess has no real friends to turn to. Then there's Niku, the other half of the narrative. Niku is Romanian and moves to England temporarily with his family so that they can earn money  and send some of it back home. Niku wants to settle in England despite the racism sent his way, but his family keep talking about going home and providing him with an arranged marriage.

Of course, Jess and Niku connect and a friendship is formed. The dynamics between the pair are constantly evolving and based upon young adult conventions such as social acceptance and slang, but in some ways it is more true a friendship than many adult ones. I loved how Niku was very patient with Jess and kept his thoughts separate from his actions, exemplifying maturity that his peers not only think he is incapable of, but is in fact more noteworthy than their own. Meanwhile, the background characters in the story, Meg, Dan and so on, aren't developed at all but this isn't necessary as they are there to play the roles of the 'society' - to be representations and nothing more.

I feel like it would be impossible to write a review of We Come Apart without mentioning the writing style. Calling it "unique" feels like an understatement. It could have been a poem in parts. The use of minimal language which carried huge significance meant that the book was memorable, fluid in form and had a sense of immediacy. Like the characters were telling their story to only you.

I heard recently that statistically more women read or are "better" readers because they are typically more empathetic and reading is about empathising with characters. Whether you think this is true or not, I thoroughly empathised with both Jess and Niku. The ending was so emotionally powerful, packed with so much that I had to re-read it multiple times. 

We Come Apart was a quick read but one that was nonetheless strikingly poignant. It's a special book that I hope will find its way into the hands of many readers who can also appreciate how important these issues are.

If you want to grab a hope of We Come Apart you can do so here. I want to know if you've read it and what your thoughts are!

Love, Jess

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