The Weight of Water
London, Bloomsbury, 2013,
If the Carnegie prize is looking for originality, this book is a winner. Written in the form of a collection of poems, The Weight of Water tells the story of Kasienka, a school girl who moves from Poland with her mother to search for her absent father.
I was not expecting this collection to tell such a brilliant story. When I flicked through, I thought it was an anthology, but instead, it is almost like a novel in it's detail and care. The structure of the poems adds meaning to the plot, as the way the words fall on the page reflect the narrator's feelings.
Kasienka has a hard time of it at school. She is instantly recognised as different - she has the wrong rucksack and her hair is too short. When one of the boys tries to be nice to her, rumours start to spread. Meanwhile, Kasienka's mother searches ardently for her husband, unable or unwilling to move on. Mother and daughter start to drift apart, as Kasienka longs for home, and her mother longs for love.
Recently, I have been reading poetry written by the students at my school, many of whom have lived a life like Kasienka - displaced, fatherless, outside. The poems in The Weight of Water are beautifully written - so convincing that I had to check Sarah Crossan's biography because I was convinced these were written from experience. I'm learning to appreciate poetry as a method of story-telling, and Crossan's book is a brilliant example of this technique on a grand scale. This is such an incredibly unique way to tell a story, and I now want more of the same!