Fifteen-year-olds Nicu and Jess try and get through days tinged with sadness and oppression, but the moment they forge an unlikely friendship, sunlight and hope enter their burdened lives.
Drawn together, they slowly learn to trust one another with their secrets and pain. Nicu endures frequent bullying and taunts at school and Jess faces violence at home. The time they spend together bring them happiness and a strong bond forms.
When Nicu's parents announce they're planning his marriage to a girl he doesn't know – in Romania, Nicu feels defeated. He loves London and the prospect of a better life than the one he had back home, but to disobey his Dad means risking another beating. Jess also lives in fear, especially when her violent step-father decides to pay her more attention.
Nicu and Jess embark on an ambitious plan but something unexpectedly tragic crosses their path and Nicu is forced to make a choice that belies his 15 years, yet highlights the mature, smart and noble young man he truly is.
This story is packed with realism, and exposes the destructive force of racism prevalent in some parts of society today. Whilst the plot is simultaneously hopeful and hopeless, it draws attention to the plight of those who are oppressed and how strength and salvation can be found in the most unlikely of allies. Nicu's character is powerful, real and so full of kindness, he brings out the goodness in Jess.
Friendship, love, culture, racism, abuse, disempowerment and hope are all thrown together with heart-rendering consequences.
We Come Apart is told in verse from two distinct points of view, written by award winning Young Adult authors Sarah Crossan and Brian Monaghan. Using sparse narrative that delivers, often one sentence reveals so much more. A book all teenagers need to read. It educates against racism and teaches empathy towards those who are powerless.
Title: We Come Apart
Author: Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
Publisher: Bloomsbury, $17.99
Publication Date: 22 February 2017
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult