‘You have to be quick,
none of this pretending to be browsing business,
that some shoplifters go for.
grab want you want,
and out again.’
Jess would never have looked twice at Nicu if her friends hadn’t left her in the lurch. Nicu is all big eyes and ill-fitting clothes, eager as a puppy, even when they’re picking up litter in the park for community service. He’s so not her type. Appearances matter to Jess. She’s got a lot to hide.
Nicu thinks Jess is beautiful. His dad brought Nicu and his mum here for a better life, but now all they talk about is going back home to find Nicu a wife. The last thing Nicu wants is to get married. He wants to get educated, do better, stay here in England. But his dad’s fists are the most powerful force in Nicu’s life, and in the end, he’ll have to do what his dad wants.
As Nicu and Jess get closer, their secrets come to the surface like bruises. The only safe place they have is with each other. But they can’t be together, forever, and stay safe – can they?
What I thought
I really enjoyed this one and I wasn’t expecting to. It’s written completely in verse and somehow I managed to miss that minor detail until I actually opened it up for the first time. I’m not a poetry person, I enjoyed the Spike Milligan and A A Milne I read as a child but just don’t ‘click’ with poetry normally. Especially ones that don’t fit a pattern or rhyme (to me poems should always rhyme, maybe I’m just old school). So the fact that I didn’t know it was verse meant I was excited about the plot from the synopsis and didn’t have the pre-conceptions of poetry hanging over my head. I’ll also admit that when I realised it was verse I had to decide if I really wanted to read it, and then decided that it wouldn’t take me long to read; due to the fact at least half the page didn’t have words on and, as I had bought it, I should probably read it before I pass it on to a charity shop. It was going to be an expensive lesson/reminder to actually read everything and not just pick up books that look pretty. (Side note, it’s still on my bookcase and it isn’t a lesson to flick through the book.)
It took me a while to get used to the style and I still feel like I probably would have enjoyed it more if it was written as a normal piece of prose but I did enjoy it. The two characters are a pair of unlikely friends, even to the point of her ignoring him in any other situation apart from the hours of their community service until she agrees to go on a date with him. And even then Jess doesn’t want to be seen with Nicu in school or stop any of the comments being made about him until a lot later.
The relationship between Jess and Nicu grows slowly and is a very believable one. Neither of them are happy with their position in life, Nicu wants to be able to enjoy England and not be married off to someone he’s never met whilst Jess is stuck living with her mum and her mum’s abusive partner. The fact that they are in community service is just the icing on the already terrible cake. And yet somehow they are drawn to each other, they find comfort in the others culture; where Jess wants to learn more about Romania, Nicu is taught English by Jess making sure he understands swear words and common phrases used in and outside of school and youth culture.
What I loved about this was the way that the verse from Nicu’s POV changed and adapted throughout the book. Where it started being quite choppy English by the end the grammar still wasn’t necessarily correct but the words flowed more naturally. It was a clear representation of what he had been learning from Jess and how that had changed his inner monologue.
Why I read it
I picked it up in the bookshop because it looked good. Sometimes there is no more explanation apart from it looks pretty and I liked the synopsis.
Like I said I nearly dropped it once I got it home and realised it was all in verse but I’m glad I didn’t.
Although verse isn’t my thing I really enjoyed this book and it’s use of language. The two characters grew organically and I really wanted both of them to get out of the desperate situations they were in.
After this I wouldn’t mind reading another book in verse although I don’t think I’ll actively seek one out.
Would I recommend? Yes, but I would warn them that it wasn’t prose
Popsugar: Book by two authors, published in 2018, problem facing society today.
Please let me know if you would ever read a book that isn’t prose or if you would be willing to give one a go. Comments always mean a lot so it would be nice of you to put one on here.
In exciting news I’m going to be part of a Blog Tour later in the month so watch this space!
P.S The next book is ‘The Twits’ by Roald Dahl