Review published on February 6, 2017.
Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan are two of the brightest stars of YA literature at the moment – Crossan claiming both the YA Prize and Ireland’s Children’s Book of the Year for her last novel, One, and Conaghan this month receiving the Costa Children’s Book Award for The Bombs That Brought Us Together. So, the idea of these two authors joining forces for a new novel – We Come Apart – is hugely exciting, and the outcome is perhaps even better than one could imagine. Like Crossan’s One, the novel is told entirely in free verse and it’s a formula that seems to work particularly well. It is both a dynamic and vibrant form, but also one that discards all excess and gets to the core of the story. The novel follows two central characters, teenagers Jess and Nicu, with alternating ‘chapters’ told from each of their perspectives. Both characters are brilliantly written, with the requisite amounts of angst, charm and sympathy, and the authors do a fine job of taking two stereotypes – the ‘bad girl’ and the ‘immigrant’ – and dismantling them. It is a story of opening one’s heart and mind to others that is particularly fitting in current times. Both characters feel enticingly real and the authors create two very distinct and separate, but ultimately compatible, voices. The plot itself deals with a range of similarly pertinent issues and it does so with both honesty and compassion, although it is the developing friendship between Jess and Nicu played out against the forces that threaten to keep them apart that is so perfectly delivered in the novel. It is very much a contemporary love story for our times, albeit one that is made possible only through the brilliance of its authors. Whilst the novel is testament to the individual skill of Crossan and Conaghan, what the book really shows is the magic that can result when two talents are brought together. I really hope that this isn’t the last we see of the pairing and also that it inspires other authors to see just what is possible through collaboration.
Jade Craddock 5/5
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
Bloomsbury Childrens 9781408878859 hbk Feb 2017
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