Apple and Rain
Apple Apostolopoulou was only a little pip peering through the stair gate when she watched her mother leave. She's lived with her devout Nana ever since but at thirteen and a half she's tired of being picked up from school, missing out on getting chips on the pier with the popular girls. Nana's over-bearing protection has cost her a best friend - who couldn't miss out on a chance to be in with the in-crowd and she's invisible to the eyes of gorgeous sixth former Egan.
She's feeling lower than ever when her mum suddenly cascades back into her life bringing a fuzz of inappropriate parties and skipped days from school. Apple's mum is reckless and restless, but she's also beautiful, young and fun. Moving in with Mum is a rollercoaster - shopping and lunches out one day, abandoned with a box of Ready Brek the next, it's a world away from the religious routine of Nana's house but with freedom comes responsibility and when Apple meets Rain it becomes clear that her mum isn't particularly good at looking after anyone - including herself.
Sarah Crossan's poetic novella The Weight of Water was shortlisted for the Carnegie medal. Poetry remains integral to the writing here, personified in a tremendous teacher, Mr Gaydon. Apple's poems are showered throughout the prose making it a more accessible novel to those reluctant to reading verse. Apple is an endearing character and her internal struggle to feel any resentment towards the disappointing mother she'd been craving for so long is sincere and believable.
Rain's story is striking and unique, adding real drama and depth to this fiery family's problems. But hearts will be stolen by home-schooled Del, whose scene-stealing moments add welcome notes of flirty fun and a perfectly judged blossoming romance to the mix. Engrossing and uplifting, challenging and charming, Apple and Rain brings fiction and poetry together in a well-crafted story about growing up and learning to love.