The Weight of Water

Book review by
Joanna H. Kraus, Common Sense Media
The Weight of Water Book Poster Image
Moving free-verse tale of immigrant girl's new life in UK.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows the difficulties of adjusting to a broken family as well as what it's like for an immigrant confronting a new culture and foreign language. It will be relatable for tweens and teens who know how it feels to adjust to a new home or school.

Positive Messages

It's possible to rise above misfortunes and dire disappointments, and to have the courage to stand alone.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Twelve-year-old Kasienka is believable and brave as she struggles with the difficulties and demands that a new life in a strange country has thrust upon her.


No physical violence, but Kasienka experiences prejudice and bullying (snide remarks, being ostracized) at school. One of the students and her clique make fun of her clothes and her haircut, whisper and gossip about her, and exclude her. Kasienka thinks,"I am a fox surrounded by beagles. They will eat me alive and spit out the fat."


Kasienka has a sweet romance with a boy he meets at the pool where she swims, and they kiss. 


There are insults made in anger among family members --  words such as "mule" and "crazy" -- and there are references  to "Polacks" on a news flash. One of the students sends a mean note about Kasienka saying, "She's nasty." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan, author of Breathe, is a novel in free verse about a broken family and a young immigrant girl's struggle. After the father abandons his wife and 12-year-old daughter, Kasienka, and flees from Gdansk, Poland, to Coventry, England, Kasienka and her mother track him down there, only to find they find he's built a new life of which they are no longer a part. Somehow Kasienka must cope with her father's indifference, her mother's rage, and being bullied (mainly side remarks and being excluded) at her new school. She finds comfort and a sweet romance with a boy she meets at the pool where she swims, and they kiss. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byMaryLeeCosbie May 24, 2015

May be inappropriate for kids under 11

My daughter is eleven. She read this book and really enjoyed it, but told be it talked a little bit about Kasienka's romantic feelings and had some kissing... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBooks78 May 29, 2017

Beautifully writen!

A must read for all tweens and early teens! Is written in a poetic format and provides a gorgeous story with a great message behind it.
Teen, 15 years old Written bypuppyloverxo May 5, 2016

Really Nice Book

This book was really enjoyable and has great messages.

What's the story?

When Kasienka's father abandons his family in Poland, her mama is distraught. She takes her daughter and a battered suitcase to England, determined to track him down. Kasienka dutifully helps her mother try to find him, while bravely trying to adjust to an impoverished life in a one-room flat, a new language, a school where she's bullied and has no friends, and the dreadful realization that her father doesn't want them any longer. Kasienka finds solace in swimming and a budding romance with William, a boy she meets at the pool. Both help her face her future.

Is it any good?

THE WEIGHT OF WATER is a coming-of-age novel in free verse. Author Sarah Crossan deals with heavy topics -- abandonment, bullying, adjustment to a life in a new country -- yet the narrative poem is lyrical, rich in sensory detail, and profoundly moving. About the missing father, Kasienka thinks, "Tata does not want to be found. He is in hiding -- he is hiding from us both,/ But I don't tell Mama this,/ Even when we're searching/ Night after night/ Street after street/ One door at a time/ and it's raining/ And I'm hungry,/ and teary,/ and tired. Because hope is all Mama has,/ And I cannot take it from her."

Crossan also gently treats Kasienka's awakening first love and emerging self-esteem.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about immigration. How hard would it be to leave your home country to come to a new one, learn a new language and adjust to a different culture? 

  • What other books you've read or movies you've seen have explored issues of immigration? Why is immigration a big issue in the news? 

  • What are some things you could do to make a new student from a foreign country or a different school district feel comfortable and welcome?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate