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