When Our Worlds Collided by Danielle Jawando
Published: March 31st 2022 by Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
Rating: ★★★★ (4)
Genre: Young Adult // Contemporary
Quick Thoughts: An emotional, heart-wrenching story that not only moves the reader, but stays with them long after.
About The Book:
A powerful coming-of-age story about chance encounters, injustice and how the choices that we make can completely change our future. The second YA novel from the critically acclaimed Danielle Jawando, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Gayle Foreman, Jennifer Niven and Nikesh Shukla.
‘Jawando’s writing is incredibly raw and real; I felt completely immersed’ Alice Oseman
When fourteen-year-old Shaq is stabbed outside of a busy shopping centre in Manchester, three teenagers from very different walks of life are unexpectedly brought together. What follows flips their worlds upside down and makes Chantelle, Jackson, and Marc question the deep-rooted prejudice and racism that exists within the police, the media, and the rest of society.
‘A raw, unflinching and powerful story that will stay with me for a long time’ Manjeet Mann, author of The Crossing
‘A beautiful ode to found family, and a compassionate look at the power of connection borne from the ashes of tragedy and apathy’ Christina Hammonds Reed, author of The Black Kids
‘Hard-hitting yet still hopeful, this is an emotional powerhouse of a book’ Alexandra Sheppard, author of Oh My Gods
Praise for And the Stars Were Burning Brightly:
‘An outstanding and compassionate debut’ Patrice Lawrence, author of Orangeboy
‘An utter page turner from a storming new talent. Passionate, committed and shines a ray of light into the darkest places – the YA novel of 2020!’ Melvin Burgess, author of Junk
‘One of the brightest up and coming stars of the YA world’ Alex Wheatle, author of Crongton Knights
I hadn’t heard too much about When Our Worlds Collided before a copy arrived in my hands thanks to the lovely team at S&S, but I had heard a lot of praise for And The Stars Were Burning Brightly, one of Danielle’s other novels. From reading the blurb before diving in, I knew this book would be heavy, so kept in mind that it would be an emotion-filled read.
When Our Worlds Collided opens with a shocking chapter that took my breath away. It might even be one of the most moment-stopping openers I’ve read. We’re pulled into the worlds of three people—that, in the name of the book, collide that day—Chantelle, Jackson and Marc. They are bound by this shared devastation, witnessing the stabbing of fourteen-year-old Shaq in Manchester.
What makes this book so striking, right from the start, is that each of these characters is from different backgrounds and upbringings, but together in this instance, they are reminded just how thickly racism flows through the justice system, education, and media. Jackson looks at his life from a new lens that he hadn’t before. Chantelle, my favourite character, radiates strength, but sees prejudice all around her. Marc finds the experience very hard, maybe the most difficult of the three at times, because of his already heavy childhood struggles. But together, they face the ugly racism head on, knowing exactly what needs to change—but with how rooted racism is all around them, it’s never going to be easy.
Overall, if I could describe When Our Worlds Collided in one word, it would be raw. It felt real—because, let’s face it, racism is everywhere, and it’s one of the biggest issues that our society (the whole world) has—and right to it’s core, the book, despite being light in weight, had never felt heavier in my hands. I can’t even begin to understand the racism that these characters, and POC everywhere, go through on a daily basis. But through the eyes of Chantelle, Jackson and Marc, linked by Shaq’s tragedy, I was thrust into a well-crafted story that hugely left a mark. Danielle did an amazing job of getting us to love the characters and root for them the entire way. I did find some parts slow in the middle, but this didn’t really take away from how much I loved it as a whole. It was an emotional, heart-wrenching story that not only moved me as the reader, but stayed with me long after. Four huge stars.
Danielle Jawando is an author, screenwriter and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her debut YA novel, And the Stars Were Burning Brightly, won best senior novel in the Great Reads Award and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the YA Book Prize, the Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize, the Branford Boase Award and was longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the UKLA Book Awards and the Amazing Book Awards. Her previous publications include the non-fiction children’s book Maya Angelou (Little Guides to Great Lives), the short stories Paradise 703 (long-listed for the Finishing Line Press Award) and The Deerstalker (selected as one of six finalists for the We Need Diverse Books short story competition), as well as several short plays performed in Manchester and London. Danielle has also worked on Coronation Street as a storyline writer.