This story is captivating. It has the intensity, the tragedy and the poetry of a Shakespearean tragedy set in 2016 and written in modern day English. Or more accurately, it is written in the modern English slang of a troubled fifteen-year old British girl alternating with the broken English of a fifteen-year old Romanian immigrant.
We Come Apart is a bittersweet love story, about two teenagers from very different worlds. They are both allocated to the same group for community service. Initially they notice each other at a distance. They circle each other and, impelled by Nicu’s attraction to Jess, they are gradually drawn together.
Both teenagers feel powerless to change their lives. Nicu and his parents have come to England temporarily, to earn money to pay for his arranged marriage to a girl in Romania. Jess has issues at home. Her stepfather is not a pleasant man to live with. Although they go to the same school, Jess is part of the popular crowd whilst Nicu is ostracised and alone. As the attraction between them grows, Jess’s starts to feel challenged about the way her friends treat Nicu and her hesitancy to intervene. Jess and Nicu begin to confide in each other about the issues they face. Together they attempt to gain control of their lives and in doing so are propelled into chaos.
I have never read a story written in alternating viewpoint. As I read the first couple of chapters, I was surprised by the alternating viewpoint and the use of verse. However, I found that the alternating viewpoint tells the story beautifully as the characters’ voices overlapped and intertwined. I quickly got lost in it. I was fascinated by the different perspectives Jess and Nicu gave of the same events.
We Come Apart explores issues of domestic violence, racism, bullying, privilege and the implications of lack of privilege in a powerful and thought provoking way. When I finished reading it I sat speechless for a while, letting the thoughts flow through my mind. I would highly recommend it.