Crossan, Sarah. The Weight of Water
23 July 2013, Bloomsbury USA
Nominated for the Cybils by Blogger M
Kasienka and her mother have moved from Poland to Conventry, England in search for Kasienka's father, who has walked out on the family. It's hard enough to be a new student, but to be a new student from another country leaves Kasienka open to the bullying of Clair, who claims she has the wrong haircut, wrong bag, and does nasty things to her. Her mother has a map and is going around knocking on doors to try to find the father. William, however, whom she meets at a local pool, is very kind to her, and they have a budding romance. Neighbor Kanoro, who was a pediatrician in his native country but now performs the same kind of unskilled labor as Kasienka's mother does in a local hospital, is another bright spot. The father is eventually found, but his circumstances make it clear that he is not going to return. Kasienka eventually comes to terms with her situation in her new country, and learns to make the best of everything.
Strengths: While this is a novel in verse (and I usually HATE them), this was fairly easy to read. I was intrigued by Kasienka's circumstances, and the chapters/poems held together well, formed a coherent plot, and were not just sentences chopped up. I got this through a book look and will probably put it in my library. Even the bullying seemed realistic and was not overdone.
Weaknesses: There were a lot of mentions of embarrassing puberty situations like shaving, and way too much description of kissing William. Not only were they uncomfortable to read, but they felt out of place.
This was not overly British, but I doubt my readers will understand the meaning of "sent to Coventry". Made me smirk to myself a little.
Baskin, Nora Leigh. Runt
23 July 2013, Simon and Schuster
Elizabeth's family boards dogs, so she knows how some dogs try to assert their dominance. The same is true of girls in middle school when friendships are constantly rearranging. Maggie thinks that Elizabeth brags about herself, so she makes up a fake profile on a social networking site with Elizabeth's picture and the name Smelly Girl. She regrets doing it right after she posts it, but a big storm hits the area and takes out the electricity for ten days, so she can't take it down. There is also a bully named Stewart who is on the basketball team and has annoyed many kids, but everyone is afraid to do something about it until he urinates on Matthew and Matthew punches him in the face. Chapters are told from a variety of points of veiw, but most center around people being mean to each other. There is a fairly supportive teacher, Miss Robinson. Everything comes to a head at the school dance, but things are never really resolved.
Strengths: I like the chapters about the dogs that Elizabeth's family was boarding. I like Baskin's writing, and her Anything But Typical is brilliant.
Weaknesses: This was just too much about bullying, a topic which teachers love to read about and students don't. The chapters from different perspectives were confusing, and the whole book was just depressing to read.