Thank you to netgalley and Bloomsbury Childrens for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book features a lot of racism towards Romani people, and a lot of parental abuse so if you don’t think you can read that, don’t. As well as that, I’m not Romani and neither are the authors so I’m sorry if I missed something problematic in the book or if I say something wrong in this review, please let me know.
After reading One by Sarah I thought I would read this, as Brian recently won some awards for his book The Bombs We Brought Together I was interested to try a joint foray by the pair. And I was impressed.
We Come Apart is about Nicu, who is a Romani Romanian who has immigrated to the UK so that his parents can earn money for his arranged marriage, and Jess who is struggling a lot at home as her mum’s boyfriend is abusive. Nicu starts at Jess’ school and Jess finds herself defending Nicu against her racist friends who she begins to realise are horrible people.
One thing I really loved about this book was that it was about a Romani boy, I’ve never read about someone who is Romani and I’ve never even heard of one. Romani people are basically the UK’s punching bag, I couldn’t even explain to you the disgusting tv shows I’ve see about them or the characters they are made out to be in dramas, it’s gross. So because of this I thought it was really good to read from the point of view of someone who is Romani, again I will say though that neither of the writers are Romani and I don’t know how much research they did so it might not be accurate. But based on my knowledge of the UK and the people who live here and how cruel British school kids are I would say that the the bulling the Nicu experiences is pretty accurate, in fact I felt like it was pulled back a bit.
What I would have to say about the Nicu story is that I felt like the whole “parents forcing him to get married” thing was quite a harmful stereotype. Of course with stereotypes there will be some people who are true to that stereotype but there’s so many that aren’t and I wish this book had given him a different storyline because I’m 100% sure there is more to Romani people than what we see in the media.
I’m still not really sure how I feel about books written in verse. They’re great for a quick read and the often pack a real punch but I don’t think I get the effect of them that other people get.
At times this book was super hard to read but it felt honest. Jess’ home life was horrible but it wasn’t glossed over. Neither was the life of teens living in an area which is considered to be impoverished. A lot of adults writing YA books seem to be under the impression that kids don’t get violently drunk or have meaningless sex or get involved in drugs, but this book showed these things in a brutal light. I’ve lived in Glasgow I’ve seen the ways some people live when they don’t have much money coming in, I’ve seen how their children grow up and this book felt very true to that.
I found this review on goodreads from a Romanian immigrant, I don’t know if they’re Romani or not but I wanted to include it to give you an idea of what someone who has been through similar experiences felt.