About We Come Apart
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.
I wanted to read this book after having read One by Sarah Crossan, a novel in verse about conjoined sisters, which I liked. You can check out my review here.
This book was a little darker than One. The descriptions of prejudice against immigrants in England are sharp and raw and made me want to slap some people. I felt for Nicu and the difficult situation he found himself in, caught between his family’s expectations and wanting desperately to fit into his new home. It took a little longer for me to warm up to Jess. I wanted her to be smarter about her friends (who abandoned her and let her take the fall for a shoplifting venture) and I hated that she went along with her stepdad’s cruelty, though I get that she was in a really tough position there, too. She definitely grows as a character through the story. As she begins to recognize the value and goodness in Nicu, I think I felt like there was more to her than my original expectations.
And then there’s the ending. Okay. Wow. Talk about a knife to the heart. I really wanted there to be some shining rainbow of a happy ending, and it just doesn’t go at all the way I hoped. The story definitely makes a point, and Nicu’s heroism remains true to the bitter end, which was, in its own way, so sweet. And so SAD.
Though We Come Apart isn’t as dark or graphic as some of the novels in verse by Ellen Hopkins, I can see it appealing to fans of her books as it contains some similar elements: star-crossed love, social justice issues, and mistaken judgments about others.
Fifteen-year-old Nicu and his family are immigrants from Romania and face some severe prejudice. Nicu wants to fit in but finds it difficult to understand English language and culture. (The story is set in England.)
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.
Nicu brings Jess to his house and jokes that his parents will only be upset if they discover the two “making sex.” (They don’t.) Nicu’s parents have come to England to save for a bride for fifteen-year-old Nicu, who does not want to get married. At school, a girl accuses Nicu of touching her rear. At one point, Jess’s stepdad get a bit creepy, inviting her to go swimming with him. It definitely makes her feel like he wants something inappropriate from her, but she finds it hard to express why she feels that way when telling her mom later. One brief kiss between a boy and girl.
Jess and Nicu meet at a community service project after each are separately busted for shoplifting.
Boys bully Nicu in the locker room after gym class. One boy attacks Nicu and he retaliates.
Jess’s stepdad physically and verbally abuses her mom. He makes Jess record videos of her mom doing chores he assigns her and of the times he beats her up. Jess hates it but feels powerless to stop it when her mom won’t defend herself or go to authorities.