Kasienka and her mother arrive in England with little more than a bag of clothes and a plan to track down the father that abandoned them both. Forced into a new school with unfamiliar customs and a language that she doesn't fully understand it isn't easy for Kasienka to make friends. Suffering from bullying at school, living in a dismal flat and forced to walk the streets in search of her father all add up to a pretty miserable life for her. But can she find a place where she belongs?
I have to admit that I've not read many verse novels, in fact this is only the second one I've ever picked up as I've always been a bit wary of them in the past. In spite of that I found myself really enjoying Kasienka's story and I'm definitely thinking I should look into reading more of this kind of story. It isn't difficult to feel for Kasienka, she goes through so many hardships and my heart broke for her. I've never been an immigrant or struggled to go to a school where everyone speaks a different language to the one I was born speaking but I did suffer with bullying so could relate to what she suffered at the hands of school bully Clair.
The hardest thing to watch was the way her mother struggled to cope with the disappearance of her father though. Her mother has to work long hours just to afford a horrible bedsit and enough food for them to survive but then she spends all her spare time walking the streets knocking on doors showing her father's picture. It was heartbreaking to picture Kasienka trailing around after her mother when she should have been playing with friends like any normal 12-year-old girl. The story isn't all dark though, it also shows the strong friendships Kasienka makes both at home and at school and we get to see her confidence grow as she joins the school swimming team.
The Weight of Water is beautifully written and touches on so many important themes that I think it would make it a great book for using in schools. Among other things it will make you think about prejudice, racism, immigration, bullying, poverty and the importance of family and friends. This is a touching read and I would definitely recommend it if you are interested in any of these issues. I'm looking forward to seeing what Sarah Crossan comes up with next.