REVIEW: The Weight Of Water by Sarah Crossan

04 October 2012

Published: January 5th 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Number Of Pages: 228
Book: For Review*
Format: Finished Copy
Genre: Young Adult (YA), Poetry, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction.
Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bad filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother leave Poland and head for the UK to find her father. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mother's heart is breaking and at school Kasienka finds it impossible to make new friends. While the search continues, Kasienka is kept afloat by William, a boy she meets at the local pool who understands what it means to lose someone and who swims with Kasienka towards her new life.
“When I am in the water
My body moves like a wave: There is a violence to it; And a beauty.”
Kasienka is moving.
Her father has disappeared and her mother is anxious to find him. Not caring that she has no idea where in England he lives, they come to the UK, but Kasienka's mother is unhappy and her desperation to find her husband increases with every passing day; and Kasienka is finding it none the easier either as school is tough and making friends is harder than she imagined....
When I heard this was written in verse I was immediately excited to see what it would be like having not read anything like it before and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. 
The main character, Kasienka, was so adorable and sweet and strong. She was unhappy and lonely and insecure but she was strong within herself when she needed to be. She was a heroine. Tirelessly trying to help her mother fit her life back together piece by piece, keeping true to herself and trying not to be overwhelmed by her school bullies. Kasienka was unique in her own special way but the school bully, Claire, didn't see it that way and teased and tormented her for being too white, having too short hair, for having the wrong kind of bag, but essentially for being different. But through this she learnt to be happy with who she was and realised that no matter how hard you try, someone will always find fault with you, you just have to know what's best for you and stick with it, and nearly always, you'll find someone just like you, who may not be perfect, but will treat you just the way you want to be treated and will make you feel happy inside, like liquid gold.
I loved William too. He made Kasienka feel brave and wanted. At home her mother was too distracted to realise the problems she was going through and had no idea how to help her either, but William? He was popular and kind with it. He wasn't arrogant and cocky lie you think most popular people would be. He helped Kasienka forget about all her troubles and shared his with her too, which is the best way to get someone to feel closer to you. I only had one tiny problem with him. He smoked. But then like I said, not everyone is perfect! And I was so so proud of Kasienka when he offered her one and she refused. She could have just taken it to make out that she was ''cool'' but she didn't, and she influenced Will by doing that too, he put the cigarettes away and they played on the swings instead...
My favourite character other than Kasienka was Kanoro, the resident next door to them. 

"Kanoro lives in our building,
In the next room.
He shares a bathroom with mama and me,
But he is not a nasty person:
            He is beautiful
He is blacker than anyone I have ever met,
                                         Skin like
                                         Wet ink
And he scares me,
Until he smiles:
             All gums
A smile that makes his eyes twinkle."

He helps them in the best way possible, by making them laugh and smile, and helping them to remember to be happy, and never give up. He is always there for Kasienka, and she pours her heart out to him when she feels she cannot speak to her mother. She plays chess with him and watches television and plays with him outside in winter; their first experience of 'English' snow.
Outside of home and school, swimming is Kasienka's solace and it's when she's in the water that she feels powerful, sleek and self-assured and she can momentarily forget all the troubles that have been weighing her down every day. 

"Mrs Warren asks, "Do you speak English dear?"
Crouching down,
                         Resting her hands on her knees,
As though summoning a spaniel."

"In lessons I have to
Hide my face
With a book
So teachers
Don't see my tonsils,
when I yawn

I don't read well
In English
That is all I can't do

So they put me in with eleven-year-olds."

The Weight Of Water teaches us to be accepting of people from different cultures and to not make snap judgments about others. It is about immigration and alienation and trying to fit in with people who judge you on appearance without getting to know the real you and the person inside. Kasienka has to deal with peoples' prejudices, even those of the adults around her. Her teacher automatically assumes she is dumb and incapable of outing her in the same year as people her age and immediately thinks she needs educational help just because she is from abroad so puts her with eleven-year-old. Her class mates do the same, they talk to her as if she has mental difficulties and label her the immature polish girl, the one who doesn't know how to dress or speak or act or even have friends. As Cathy Cassidy says, it was "Poignant, powerful, just perfect." A stunning début novel.
*This book was provided by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I have this book to read on my Kindle and I'm really looking forward to it!

  2. Wow, this sounds amazing! I LOVE the fact that it is written in verses, I love poetry. Thanks for the great review and for sharing some quotes :)

  3. This sounds really interesting. Thanks for the thorough review!


  4. Oh no! Another book review that gets me teary eyed and I just started to read the summary! Where is her dad! I love the swimming aspect to it and the way she describes it. Makes me want to read the book. I still haven't found a book in verse that I really like and this seems to (maybe) be the one. Love this :D
    She’s Got Books on Her Mind

  5. I've read this. It's excellent! It only takes a handful of hours, and it's completely worth it. My favourite part was the bit where she describes Sylvia Plath's name, saying it'a heavy and round like a ball of lead. Ohhh, THE WORDS! THE FEELS!

  6. Hi Jasmine! I nominated you for and award on my blog :)

  7. Oh! The Weight of Water! ~dies~ It is SO brilliant and amazing! Maybe someday I shall write a novel in verse...~dreamy face~

  8. Thanks for all the lovely comments and Eurgh! Emily...I am currently trying to write a novella - even I can dream! - in verse...I am 2,000 words.... -.-

  9. Great review! I'm definitely going to try and buy this, it sounds amazing!

  10. This sounds brilliant. I've read Crossan's Breathe and mostly enjoyed it, but I hear this is much better so I can't wait to read it myself. Great review! :)

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