One by Sarah Crossan

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One by Sarah Crossan

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Wonderfully moving story of conjoined twins, written in blank verse. The story is absorbing and deeply affecting and the style, far from being high-falutin', seeps into your reading in a truly memorable way. We loved it.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: August 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408863111

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WINNER of the 2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal

It's always been Tippi-and-Grace. Never Tippi and Grace. These twins can't be separated - and we don't mean just socially or emotionally; we mean physically, too. Because Tippi and Grace are conjoined twins. They have two heads, two hearts, two sets of lungs, two pairs of arms. But at the waist, they come together. Life hasn't been easy - their father has lost his job as a college professor and so their mother works ridiculously long hours at the bank to keep up the health insurance payments. Medical bills are crippling and money is tight, so tight that the twins are going to have stop being homeschooled and enroll in a "normal" school for the first time.

School presents all sorts of problems, with the points and stares of the other pupils. But Tippi and Grace make their very first friends in Jon and Yasmeen. And they remain as close and and as loving to each other as they've always been. But, as the twins are making their way through all the usual teen issues plus the unusual ones posed by their condition, an awful decision looms ever closer...

The book covers a lot of issues, many specific to conjoined twins but some universal ones about growing up. Conjoined twins are other, you know? They get pointed and gossiped about. People ask, "Do they take sugar?" What happens when your family loses work because you need more care than other children? What if they can't pay the medical bills? What if reality TV producers offer you money and you need money? Are you making things worse by signing yourself up to become the subject of freak porn? Or are you spreading awareness? How will it work if one of you gets a boyfriend? Or if one wants to try alcohol but the other doesn't? And then there's the big one: at what point do you say yes to separation surgery? And how would life change if you survived?

Crossan approaches all these questions with a veritably fearsome honesty. So many of the options Grace and Tippi are face with are Hobson's choices. Damned if you do, equally damned if you don't. But they forge on with the kind of quiet (and sometimes noisy) determination that leaves the able-bodied reader in true amazement. Grace, the quiet, conformist twin is our narrator and we see Tippi, the brash, obstreperous one, through Grace's eyes. I loved this choice because we see the strongest character in the book through the person who loves her most. And it's deeply affecting.

It's told in free verse. I say that with brevity but really, I'm bubbling over with enthusiasm for this choice. It works. It really works. And anything I say here in this review will detract from the impact when you read the book, which I implore you to do. It's fantastic. Truly.

Another fabulous, moving novel that illuminates living as - or with - conjoined twins is The Flask by Nicky Singer. You can find more delicious free verse in Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech.

Booklists.jpg One by Sarah Crossan is in the Top Ten Books for Teens 2015.
Buy One by Sarah Crossan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy One by Sarah Crossan at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy One by Sarah Crossan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy One by Sarah Crossan at Amazon.com.


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