Young Adult Book Review - One - Sarah Crossan
Recommended for literally everyone ever. Babies? Yeah, why not.
You know how sometimes you start a book and almost immediately you think, ‘this is going to win awards’?
Well, this is going to win awards. This should win awards. This should win all the awards. It’s a stunning, emotional journey in the lives (or is it life?) of teenage conjoined twins starting school for the first time, and if it doesn’t have you weeping at the end then there must be something wrong with you.
Told from Grace’s point of view, we see into the life that she shares with twin Tippi, and the way that what is so alien to everyone else is so normal to them. Where everyone gives them sympathy or is certain that they were be broken apart if given the opportunity, this special bond and connection is all the twins have known, and it would be like cutting out one of their vital organs if they lost the other.
Their family and newfound friends all react in different ways to the challenges of the twins’ condition, from their father’s drinking and unworthiness of the title ‘father’, to the friendships they strike up immediately upon starting school with two outcasts, and the emotional and romantic bonds that begin to form following that. You can’t help but feel the pain that goes with the knowledge that, though they wouldn’t change who they are for a second, it means that they can’t do everything that a ‘normal’ person does, at least without huge challenges. A romantic relationship, for example.
I’ve already mentioned how emotional the story is, and it only gets increasingly so as the story goes on. No spoilers, but use your imagination for the issues that might arise for conjoined twins, and you’ll be on the right tracks.
Underpinning all this is the beautiful poetical and lyrics prose that Sarah Crossan uses to tell the story. It’s essentially one long poem broken into smaller chapters, occasionally broken up with the odd POV from another character, and is unlike anything else I’ve ever read. Would I feel differently about the story if it was written traditionally? I doubt it. Does it make it stand out and feel utterly special because of it? A million times yes.
If I had to place a bet now, I would put this above all others as the main contender for the Carnegie Medal 2016. It’s an emotional powerhouse, beautifully written in it’s own unique style (as far as I’ve ever come across), and does a great job of highlighting an unbelievable difficult situation for people to live in, whilst highlighting how it’s simply the norm for those involved.
I was recommending this even before I’d finished reading it. It’s not just for young adults; it deserves to be read by everyone. The only book that comes close to this on an emotional level for me is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, and I’m guessing you know all about that.
If you only read one book this year, it should be One.