The Weight of Water
What parents need to know
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?