Book Review: One – Sarah Crossan

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This is my story.

It is a single story,
not two tales tangled up in each other
like lover’s limbs,
as you might expect.

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins sharing every single experience with one another. While they may not be ‘normal’ teenage girls that doesn’t stop them wanting to have the same experiences as everyone else. Written through the eyes of  Grace, Crossan presents the story of two heads, two hearts, two souls, one body.

I was intrigued by the idea of this novel, I’ve never read about conjoined twins before in a fictional setting before, must less from the perspective of one of the sisters. That said, this novel is about both Grace and Tippi and who they are as individuals, as more than just ‘the twins’.  The novel considers their family life, job loss and what it means to be a ‘normal’ teenager when you are the subjects of stares and whispers of all around you.

This novel was endearing and quite clever, what I didn’t know upon buying it is that the novel is written in verse. While this is different and shows that Crossan is incredibly talented, I found it incredibly difficult to read in this format and while I was trying to work it out it took away from the story for me. I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I think I would have should it have been prose.

I did enjoy, however, that Crossen didn’t show the girls as a freak show or as one person. Both Grace and Tippy have their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes. While some would see Graces ‘bucket list’ as depressing, in fact it makes the book more realistic. There is a chance that these girls will die as their bodies try to cope with being conjoined.

Crossan isn’t afraid of realism within the novel. The focus on the feelings of exclusion they feel and judgement are not shied away from. Nor are the financial problems that Grace and Tippi’s family face from their condition. The struggle and worry of being able to afford treatment that keeps them both alive highlights the unfairness and strain on a family for something they simply can’t help.

Overall, I gave the novel 3 stars. While it did enjoy it and thought it was an interesting story I felt that while the prose was a brave choice, it wasn’t for me. Trying to work my way through the prose as well as following the story, I found myself constantly distracted. I would recommend this novel if you want something a little different and want to expand your reading experience.

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