Sunday, 20 December 2015

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Review: One by Sarah Crossan

One by Sarah CrossanOne by Sarah Crossan (proof) - Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?
From Goodreads.

On hearing that Sarah Crossan had written One, a book about conjoined twins, I was so eager to read it. However, I finished the book feeling a little disappointed.

Tippi and Grace are conjoined twins. They have been homeschooled their whole lives, to keep them away from the cruelty of others, but now their parents can no longer afford it. Tippi and Grace start their senior year of high school with trepidation, waiting for the stares and cruel words. But they find school isn't so bad once they make friends with Yasmeen and Jon, the only two people outside of family, medical professionals and teachers who see them as two individual people, rather than a curiosity to be afraid of or bully. Their lives start to get a little complicated when Grace starts to fall for Jon; there's no chance Jon could possibly like her, being one of conjoined twins, but even if he did, how could any real relationship be possible? But soon the girls realise Grace's feelings are the least of their worries; when their health is threatened, the biggest and most dangerous of their lives lies ahead.

The premise of the story is wonderful. I was really interested and intrigued to see where Crossan would take Tippi and Grace's story, and to see how much we would learn about conjoined twins and their lives. But I did have trouble getting emotionally involved in the story. One is 448 pages long, but it's also a verse novel, so there isn't a huge amount of text. One is the kind of book you could fly through in one sitting, it's a super quick read. and I found the story goes by too quickly for me to feel much connection to the characters.

I do not deny the huge amount of talent it takes to write a story in verse; to be able to tell a full, complete story in the structure of poetry, with really very few words. It's amazing and admirable. But for this kind of story - an intense and highly emotional story - I need to feel connected to the characters, I need to be emotionally involved in their story to care, and this structure just didn't work for me. I didn't care as much as I should have for the story being told. When we reached the climax, I felt sad for the characters, my eyes filled with tears, but tears that didn't fall. If this story had been told in prose, my heart would have broke and I would have been sobbing uncontrollably on the bus home. Instead, I finished it, put the book away, stared out the window, and my thoughts quickly turned to other things. Don't get me wrong, I do like verse novels, it just seems for me, with a novel that is on such an emotional topic, verse doesn't hit me the way prose does. That's not to say it won't affect other readers differently. I guess it just comes down to what grabs you personally.

Unfortunately, One wasn't a book that worked for me on an emotional level, but it's still a fascinating and interesting story. It's eye-opening and thought-provoking, and I'm sure a lot of people will love it.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Children's Books for the proof.

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Published: 27th August 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Sarah Crossan on Twitter

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