Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.
Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?
For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.
Publishing: 9 February 2017
I need to confess that I started this book angry at Sarah and Brian for how badly they portrayed Nicu. Now I am not generally someone that speaks out about racism. I mean I do tend to feel that people tend to go overboard with the whole ‘omg white authors can’t write about racism because they’ve never experienced it’ crap but there are some things that I do frown upon.
In this book in particular, I didn’t like that Nicu’s parts were all written so badly and disjointed that it almost felt like they were poking fun at him and trying to portray him as illiterate. Like ‘hey! Look at that foreigner. He can’t speak english! Let’s mock him and laugh at him and his cultures. Let’s make sure everyone knows he’s dumb.”
So yes, I did start out being angry in the beginning. And then the story started to unfold and I finally say what the authors were trying to get at and I guess it started to make more sense.
This book follows Jess and Nicu. Two teenagers who are going through enormous struggles. Jess is from an abusive home and Nicu has just moved from Romania and is struggling with speaking English, racism and the fact that his parents are just waiting to earn enough money to get him married off to a girl in Romania.
In the midst of all this pain and difficulty, Jess and Nicu meet each other in community service. What starts out as two people unwilling to connect with each other very quickly develops into a friendship and then a relationship.
Told entirely in verse, the authors weave a heartbreaking story about finding your home within someone else and how true love isn’t always the happy ending that everyone expects.
Jess was a girl that came from an abusive home. She was damaged and she was trying to deal with her home life as well as her life outside it.
Jess was honestly someone that I didn’t really like from the beginning to the end. She was quite bitchy and racist towards Nicu even after they became friends and then lovers. Not to mention that she thought ridiculously highly of herself considering that she and Nicu were at the exact same place in community service. I mean seriously.
But I think what kept me hating Jess was the fact that she refused to stand up to the people that bullied Nicu. Instead, she often joined in or just remained silent. Like no. I cant stand that.
I think I liked Nicu a lot largely because he could not speak English fluently. So you just automatically felt more protective towards him. Especially when Jess is saying terrible things to him.
He was a very innocent kid but you could tell that there was this buried hardness in him that was developed from staying quiet about the horrible way that he was being treated in school and how his parents treated him like a piece of meat at home.
It’s something I think a lot of people can really relate to. I know I certainly did.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a very quick but impactful read.
I personally loved how it wasn’t your typical romance with the happy ending. Rather the ending proved that love does not mean that you end up dancing off into the sunset with your lover. Something that I think is sorely lacking in most young adult contemporary books these days.
The characters, while unlikeable, were well-developed even in this short book. It was just a read that was painful and it made me cry and we all know that any book that makes me cry is a good book in my books (wow that was a mouthful).
The way the book was written (in verse) was also really excellent and enjoyable.
Overall, something that I totally think you should read.
*An advanced copy was provided to me to read and review by Pansing. However, all opinions are my own*