The Weight of Water

The Weight of Water

5.0 2
by Sarah Crossan

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Carrying just a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother are immigrating to England from Poland. Kasienka isn't the happiest girl in the world. At home, her mother is suffering from a broken heart as she searches for Kasienka's father. And at school, Kasienka is having trouble being the new girl and making friends. The only time she


Carrying just a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother are immigrating to England from Poland. Kasienka isn't the happiest girl in the world. At home, her mother is suffering from a broken heart as she searches for Kasienka's father. And at school, Kasienka is having trouble being the new girl and making friends. The only time she feels comforted is when she's swimming at the pool. But she can't quite shake the feeling that she's sinking. Until a new boy swims into her life, and she learns that there might be more than one way to stay afloat.

The Weight of Water is a coming-of-age story that deftly handles issues of immigration, alienation, and first love. Moving and poetically rendered, this novel-in-verse is the story of a young girl whose determination to find out who she is prevails.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Janice DeLong
Life is difficult enough for a twelve-year-old under normal circumstances, but add to the mix being abandoned by one's father and having a mother who is resolute about finding him. Our protagonist, Kasienka, finds herself with packed suitcase trailing through immigration lines behind her mother, Ola, who is determined to find the absentee husband if she has to follow him wherever he may be. The journey begins with mother and child leaving behind all that is familiar in Gdansk Glowny, Poland and struggling on to Coventry, England with a sense of desperation, chasing the word that their husband and father is somewhere in England. While Ola finds a slum-like dwelling and a job that she would not have considered taking in Poland, Kasienka, or "Cassie," as she has come to be called, struggles with emotional and academic issues in her new school. Bullied by the girls, bored by the sixth-grade where she has been placed, Cassie slogs on. The only place of peace is the local pool where the lonely girl can truly lose her sorrow and find herself in the water. As is sure to happen in books for young adults, Cassie also is found by a boy, older than she. At first, William simply admires her swimming ability, but soon he values the young immigrant herself. Cassie's coming of age and coming to a resolution about her parents will encourage those teens in similar family ordeals. There are some awkward and intimate sexual scenes with readers being left to speculate on details. Reviewer: Janice DeLong
Publishers Weekly
Written in verse, in the voice of a Polish girl forced to move to England with her mother, this is a wrenching but hopeful story of displacement, loneliness, and survival. In their one-room rental, Kasienka, nearly 13, watches helplessly as her mother unravels, determined to track down the husband who abandoned them. Her school life is also bleak: she’s initially placed with younger students because of her poor English, teachers are patronizing, her classmates shun her, and the one girl who befriends her suddenly turns on her. Kasienka’s observations are insightful and hard-hitting (“I am not an English girl in Gdansk./ I’m a Pole in Coventry./ And that is not the same thing./ At all”), and her resilience prevents her from being a victim. She finds solace in swimming (“Water is another world:/ A land with its own language./ Which I speak fluently”), in the friendship of a neighbor from Kenya, and in her first love. Crossan’s (Breathe) verse packs a punch as she examines the power that difference—but also determination—can wield. Ages 10–14. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary Agency. (July)
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Kasienka and her mother have left their home in Poland to find the father and husband who left them a few years before. They arrive in the UK with some meager possessions and only a vague notion of where to find a man who may not wish to be found. Kasienka feels "all wrong," a feeling that only gets worse when she finds herself in the crosshairs of one of her school's alpha girls. On top of the bullying, she must travel door to door each night acting as her mother's voice in a demeaning search for her father. Kasienka tells her tale through graceful, effortless verse that succinctly captures the immigrant experience in a way that anyone who has ever felt left out could easily embrace. This is a sweet, well-paced tale not without a silver lining; Kasienka finds happiness and the stirrings of first love in an unexpected place-the swimming pool. Those who have wished for an older version of Carolyn Marsden's The Gold-Threaded Dress (Candlewick, 2002) or Eleanor Estes's The Hundred Dresses (Harcourt, 1944) need look no further. The Weight of Water will more than fill the hole.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
In this taut portrayal of the immigrant experience, 12-year-old Kasienka moves with Mama from Gdansk, Poland, to Coventry, England, to find Tata, her father. The adjustment is difficult. At school, Kasienka is ostracized. At home, she questions why they are searching for a man who ran from them. When Kasienka complains, Mama questions her love. Kasienka feels powerful only when she swims at the pool--something Tata taught her to do. That is also where William, a schoolmate, first notices her. Narrating in image-rich free verse that packs an emotional punch, Kasienka describes what life is like for a new arrival while also exploring universal themes of abandonment, loyalty, bullying and first love. Concise lines and brief poems--two to three pages at most--mirror her tentative steps in an alien world, offering snapshots of her experiences and thoughts. Her story is broken into three parts, emphasizing the stages Kasienka goes through, with the last providing "starting blocks," as it were. Sweetheart William encourages her to swim; through swimming, Kasienka reconnects with her father; she and Mama make peace; and the school bully is rendered powerless in the face of Kasienka's hard-won happiness. It is fitting that some of the last poems are entitled "Metamorphosis" and "Forgiveness." The Epilogue, "Butterfly," offers good advice for living: "[P]ull, / Push, / Recover." Memorable. (Verse fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
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Barnes & Noble
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File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Sarah Crossan is the author of the Breathe trilogy. She grew up in England and Ireland, has taught English in the United States, and now lives in London with her family. Visit her online at
Sarah Crossan is originally from Dublin. She graduated with a degree in philosophy and literature before training as an English and drama teacher at Cambridge University and has been working to promote creative writing in schools since. She taught English at a small private school near New York until she became a full time writer. She completed her Masters in creative writing at the University of Warwick in 2003 and in 2010 received an Edward Albee Fellowship for writing. Sarah lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and their daughter.

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The Weight of Water 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read It!!!! :) u will luv it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will really like this book!!! Im glad i read it this book was on the state reccomended book list read this book you will ne glad you did