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The Weight of Water



Moving free-verse tale of immigrant girl's new life in UK.

What parents need to know

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

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." 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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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. 

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:Sarah Crossan
Genre:Family Life
Topics:Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:July 23, 2013
Number of pages:240
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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Teen, 13 years old Written byaisha50163 December 8, 2014

The weight of Water

This is such an amazing book. It shows the world what reality is, and I think more people should read it.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
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 in it, parts where it is just her and her boyfriend alone in his room. I would recommend this to eleven-year-olds who are able to handle this topic.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written bypuppyloverxo May 5, 2016

Really Nice Book

This book was really enjoyable and has great messages.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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