Extract: We Come Apart

Posted on 13th January 2017 by Sally Campbell
The winners of two of the most prestigious children's fiction prizes, Brian Conaghan (winner of the 2016 Costa Children's Book Award) and Sarah Crossan (winner of the 2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal), have joined forces to create an ambitious and heartbreaking young adult novel, We Come Apart. The book is a modern tale of star-crossed lovers, Nicu and Jess, two teens with troubled homes and hidden secrets. If they are to succeed as a couple, they must navigate complex issues of cultural difference, parental expectation and their own frayed self-image. 

Conaghan won the 2016 Costa Children's Book Award for his dark, powerful story of survival, The Bombs That Brought Us Together,and Crossan was awarded last year's CILIP Carnegie Medal for her astonishing YA novel entirely in verse, One. The following extract is exclusive to Waterstones.




You have to be quick,

none of this pretending to be browsing business

that some shoplifters go for.


It’s in

  grab what you want

and out again.


But the others don’t get it.

They take ages making decisions, like they might be legit buying,

so I know before we’re done


were done for.

And I’m right.


We don’t make it two steps out of


before a security guard

nabs me by the hood of my jacket. Liz and Shawna are

legging it up the high street

and away,

while Meg and I

get dragged back into the shop

and up to an office.

Empty your pockets,

you little scrubbers!’ the security guard shouts.


Cant make us,’ I say.


You want me to call the police? ’ he asks.

That what you want? ’



No! Meg says,

and as quick as a heartbeat

turns her coat pockets

inside out.


But they’re empty.

No lipstick or nail varnish,

none of the mini chocolate eggs I saw her

stash away either.


I didnt even do nothing,’ she says. She bites her bottom lip,

starts to well up.

Looks all sorts of pathetic



Now you,the security guard says,

poking the air around me with his fat finger.


I turn out my pockets

wondering if all the gear I tried to nick

will somehow disappear too,

like Meg’s did.

But it doesn’t.


Everything clatters to the floor:

lipstick, blusher, mascara, nail varnish


bloody mini chocolate eggs.



Mini chocolate eggs that I didn’t nick.

Mini chocolate eggs that Meg can’t get enough of.



She winks.

She winks to tell me to keep schtum,

to make sure I don’t tell it as it is –

that she somehow managed to stuff her loot

into my pockets on the way up to the office,

that she’s meant to be my mate

but is stitching me up

and letting me take the rap

for everyone else’s thieving.



What’s all that? the security guard asks, pointing at the gear on the floor.


Never seen it before,’ I say.

Really? he asks.

Well, it just came out of your pockets.’

Can I go now? ’ Meg asks.

I stare at her,


Is she for real?

Like, is she actually going to leave me here on my own

with some mentalist security guard and the threat of juvenile jail?


Mumll be expecting me,’ she says.

I aint nicked nothing.’


The security guard picks up the phone.

Yeah, you can go,’ he tells Meg.


Then he grins at me,

well pleased with himself – Captain Catch-A-Thief.

But you.

Youre going down to the station.’


Read the full extract (PDF)




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