Monday, 5 June 2017

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
Published March 1, 2017 by Bloomsbury
Source: ARC from the publisher, purchased a finished copy
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: 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?

Sarah Crossan recently visited Australia for the Sydney Writer's Festival and I was lucky enough to hear her speak at two events. She is an energetic, engaging, and entertaining speaker and she has great insight into the writing process. Sarah said the idea for We Come Apart started when Brian Conaghan contacted her and suggested they write a verse novel together. They began by exchanging chapters via email, moved onto editing via Skype, and the result is a powerful novel. They've also developed a new creative partnership, become good friends, and learned to balance their different writing styles.

We Come Apart is set in North London. Nicu and his parents have moved from Romania to earn some money before returning home where Nicu will marry a bride of their choosing. They come from a small village community of Roma gypsies.

Jess lives with her mum and step-dad. Her father left a long time ago and her older brother moved out recently. Now she's left on her own, a lonely witness to the beatings her mother receives. Jess copes by shoplifting and after her third offence she's forced into doing community service.

Verse is the sort of medium that allows the reader to instantly feel part of the story, the format strongly connects you to the characters. Jess' chapters left me feeling sickened, scared, and chilled. These feelings increased the more her step-father started paying attention to her and I could feel the sinister atmosphere seeping through the pages.

Nicu's story evoked feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and frustration. He is trying his best: speaking English, helping his father, attending school, doing community service, but still he feels as though he's on the outside and will never fit in. People only see his skin colour and hear his accent.

The friendship that develops is bittersweet. Jess has so many walls up because of the abuse she's witnessed. Nicu is desperate for a friend, for someone to talk to, and they both find security in each other.

We Come Apart is a beautiful verse novel with captivating, realistic characters, and a compelling story that is so relevant to our world right now.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for the ARC.

Cover illustration: Ben Tallon

Sarah's books always have amazing covers and that includes her latest, We Come Apart. I love the illustration by Ben Tallon so I painted a set of nails to match and gave them to Sarah as a gift.

Sonia from Bloomsbury sent me this lovely photo of Sarah and my nails:


  1. The cover is nice and you did awesome recreating it on the nails.

  2. Oh, this sounds wonderful. I really enjoyed One so I am excited to pick this up (hopefully while I'm on holiday this week!). It's amazing how verse can feel so much more emotional than a prose novel. Lovely review. xo


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