Renee Mihulka – Children's Book Reviews & Writer

One by Sarah Crossan

A touching, remarkable novel about conjoined twins and what it means to be an individual.

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OVERALL: 5 Stars

Concept:4.5 Stars
Characters:5 Stars
Plot:4.5 Stars
Writing:5 Stars

 

Sarah Crossan
N/A
2015
Bloomsbury
400

 

Description

Grace and Tippi are 16-year-old conjoined twins, whose bodies merge together as one from their intestines down. For their entire lives they’ve been sheltered and homeschooled, but suddenly they have no choice but to attend school. At first, they are scared and apprehensive but soon relish this chance of living a more normal life when they befriend fellow misfits Yasmeen and Jon. But when the family is hit with financial struggles the girls are faced with a life-changing decision. And then there is always the cruel fact that for Grace and Tippi, time is definitely not on their side…

‘I suppose I’m afraid the other students will pity me.’ – Grace

Concept

To write an entire book in verse for Young Adults is certainly an ambitious idea. To write it about conjoined twins and their everyday struggles – well, that sends it to another level. This concept is not only original but offers so much more than you think. It’s not just about living as a conjoined twin, but about individuality, sacrifice, fitting in, friendship and hope.


Characters

The story is told entirely from the point of view of one twin – Grace and so by the end, I really felt connected to her and if anything, wanted to know more about what Tippi was thinking and feeling. In this, Sarah Crossan does an amazing job of representing the girls as individuals, we don’t assume how the other is feeling, just because they are conjoined. The secondary characters are also well drawn and interesting, without hijacking Grace’s intimate story.

Plot 

The plot is tight and well paced. It is quiet but powerful. The only eyebrow-raising moment for me was surrounding Dragon – the twin’s sister. Not sure that aspect of the story was really needed or handled well.

This story is told entirely in verse but don’t let that put you off


Writing:
 The writing is written is modern and relatable but most of all beautiful. Often I would stop and reread a passage that made my heart shrink or sing or beat more quickly. This is an amazing book because of the way it is written. I cried. I hardly ever cry.

You can read this book as a whole narrative or dip into it as discrete poems as well. I would recommend reading it cover to cover first, but then, revisiting your favourite sections.

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PARENTS:

This book is recommended for young adults 13 years and over and I would agree with this. Kids who are younger will most likely miss a lot of the nuance and deep messages and may struggle with fully appreciating the verse – which would be a giant pity.

The themes in this book are disability, individuality, struggle, sacrifice, friendship and acceptance.

Things to ask and discuss:

If you haven’t read the book, don’t worry. Ask these questions anyway and coax the answers and
out. Or just let your child mull it over alone. Don’t worry if they don’t want to talk about some of the things listed here, it’s ok to just let them talk about the bits they want to. Bottom line is, they will love that you are showing an interest and asking for their opinion, even if they don’t always show it

*Spoiler alerts in the questions!!*

1. What is your favourite poem? Did one stand out in particular? Did you even think of the book as being a series of poems used to tell a bigger story?

2. How do you think you would react to Tippi and Grace going to your school? How do you think others would react?

3. Why do you think Grace and Tippi were so adamant about not being separated? Do you think you would feel the same? What are the sacrifices they make by staying together? What are the sacrifices they would make by being apart?

4. Given Grace and Tippi’s experiences, what you do you think it really means to be an individual? What about what it means to love someone?

 

GET THE BOOK!

Use the links below or shop at your local book store.

 

Booktopia

One Response to One by Sarah Crossan

  1. Karen Comer says:

    I have goosebumps just reading your review, Renee! Will definitely look out for this book – for me now, and will save it for my kids for later.

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