The Weight of Water–Letter Essay #6 Bianca Jortner

Recently, I read the book The Weight of Water, a 210-page poetry book by Sarah Crossan, an Irish author.

The Weight of Water was published in 2011 and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. This book is unique because of its poetic-style throughout the whole book while telling a meaningful story. “The Weight of Water” is a coming of age novel in free verse. I chose to read this book because the summary captured me. I also read this novel because I wanted to read a book in the poetry genre but at the same time a book that was realistic fiction.

In The Weight of Water, 12-year-old Kasienka and her mother move to Coventry, England from Gdansk, Poland dirt poor with only a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with dirty clothes. All her mother wants to do is find their father who has left them all by themselves and fled to England. Kasienka starts in secondary school and from the start feels like she doesn’t belong there. She and her mom move into a one-room apartment, which her mother says is “temporarily”.

While Kasienka’s mother only focuses on finding her father day and night, she doesn’t realize that Kasienska is being made fun of. Even though she is being teased and bullied by her classmate Claire, she always is herself. She finds her escape from reality by being the water where she meets William, who is also a swimmer. They immediately become friends over their passion for swimming; and Kasienka’s only friend at school.

One day, Kasienka finds her father, Tata. The only thing is that he has already started a new life and no longer cares about his old one which he had left behind. But, deep inside he is proud of his daughter.

In the end, The Weight of Water is a heart-warming story about a girl who learns to overcome her loneliness and realizes what makes her happy.

I liked the way that the author formatted the book. It was in a poetry-format style. I think this added to the tone of the book and made it more enjoyable to read. Usually, I don’t like to read poem books as much, but this was one of my favorites because the plot was very well-thought out.

I would say the theme of this book was family and friends. I think this because the story behind the novel taught that family and friends helped Kasienska through tough times, and showed that they were a big part of your life. In the end, her mother and she had a special bond that couldn’t be broken, even though they didn’t like to show it. Also, William, her first friend, and boyfriend in England was there for her when the other kids at her school weren’t. When Tata showed up to see Kasienka swim, she said, “And inside I am bursting to tell Tata how grateful am that he was missing and not dead” (pg. 170). Even though Tata had moved on, Kasienka was still his daughter, and she was happy that he could support her and was proud of what she did.

The main character, Kasienka, was going through a hard time during the book. She struggled with the problem of growing up, fitting in, making new friends, and helping her mom find her dad to make her happy again. I think that since she was only 12, this was a lot for her to take on and found herself facing these problems. I think that she was very brave to move to a whole other country and deal with it alone, with barely the help of her mother. I think that Kasienka was very independent and caring not to let her problems bother her mother and add more to her plate. In the end, I was glad that the main character learned how to adapt and find happiness in her new home. I was also happy in the epilogue that she was able to find a hobby in the water which helped her grow into a better version of herself.

Finally, I was interested in this passage, which also happens to be the epilogue:

“Now that I can front crawl,

Back crawl,

Breaststroke,

 

I am breaking out.

Ms. Morrow is teaching me

The butterfly.

 

When I am in the water

My body moves like a wave:

There is violence to it

And a beauty.

 

I lie on my chest,

My arms outstretched

My legs extended back-

Waiting to kick.

 

And I pull,

Push,

Recover.

This is how the butterfly works.

 

I have to hollow out spaces

For breathing,

And if I miss them

I can’t swim.

 

But I do.

I know when to come up for air,

When to keep my head down.

 

At practice,

On the starting block

I am not frightened at all:

 

I am standing on my own,

And it

Never felt so good” (pg. 210-211).

 

What I love about this passage is that it was very creatively crafted and showed the use of author’s crafts. This passage compares her new skill of the butterfly stroke to how Kasienka has changed and grew.

“I am standing on my own,

And it

Never felt so good” (pg. 211). This passage shows how Kasienka has learned to adapt and use her past experiences to make her a better person. It shows that she is trying new things and learning to stand on her own. I loved reading this book and I rate it a 6.5/10.

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5 thoughts on “The Weight of Water–Letter Essay #6 Bianca Jortner

  1. Dear Bianca,
    This is a really good Letter-Essay! I’ve never heard of this book but I think I’ll read it now! It seems like a good book! I really like the way that you portrayed your Letter-Essay. I think it flowed really smoothly. I really love the passage at the end. I can really see Kasienka “evolving” like a butterfly! One thing you could do to make your Letter-Essay a bit better is by adding some more quotes from the book. This makes it seem as if you have all the facts and evidence. Keep up the great work!
    Mia

  2. Bianca,

    I really like your summary and explanation of the book. You did a great job adding lots of detail about the setting. You made the book sound very unique and interesting. Your letter essay it great, good job!

    -Hannah Halloran

  3. Dear Bianca,

    Great job on this letter essay! It was very detailed and showed a lot of your own thinking on the book. I especially liked how you added an extra quote, in the theme paragraph, to really back up your thinking. Thanks for sharing!

    Sincerely,
    Ashley S.

  4. Dear Bianca,

    I want to tell you that your blog post and letter-essay was great! I enjoyed your descriptive summary and explanation of the chosen passage above. It’s crazy that something that appears in the style of realistic fiction can be labeled in the genre of poetry. To be fairly honest, if you hadn’t said the genre and included that passage in that format towards the end, I probably would never have realized! By your words and descriptions I could picture the main character’s every move, and the setting of the story. Based on your writing about the book, it sounds truly appealing and I would be interested in reading it soon!

    Sincerely,

    Isabel Prentice

  5. Dear Bianca,
    I really liked how you showed your own thinking into your essay. I was really well done, and there was loads of detail! I liked your response at the end when you reflected on your reflection… such as, ¨It shows that she is trying new things and learning to stand on her own.¨ I can tell that you really understand this book!
    -Maye Stichter

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