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?
Review by Katy Haye:
Hmm, poetry doesn’t get many epic trips out these days, and I’m afraid I can see why.
Being written entirely in verse made One feel oddly childish – as though it were a toddler’s book, written to explain conjoined twins to bemused siblings or nursery classmates (and there’s nothing wrong with writing that book: if it’s not out there it probably needs to be, but this is supposed to be for teens).
The writing style made the subject-matter feel clinical and distanced, and maybe that was intentional, but distance your reader at your peril.
Here’s the thing. Books are made of words. Words are how we communicate our stories to each other. Words are vital; they are everything. BUT, words should be invisible. And by the time a human being can read competently, they generally are. As you read, the words melt away, leaving only the story behind. Now and then a word will make itself known because of its novelty or strangeness, but that should be a rarity. When all the words stand out as words because they’re placed oddly on the page they get in the way of the story. I couldn’t get through the words and lose myself in the story – and there’s not much point to reading if you can’t get at the story.
Now, I’m not entirely daft or lacking in literary sensitivity. One is about two very unusual girls who can’t fit in with others, no matter how much they try. The parallel that their book doesn’t fit with other ‘normal’ books is all very clever, but I think that difference could have been communicated by a more conventional narrative, formatted to give the same unusual effect without labouring the point in a way that makes the book inaccessible.
I wouldn’t have read this if it weren’t shortlisted for the YA Book Prize, and I don’t expect many people will read it for pleasure. With my cynical head on, I think a remarkable subject matter and highly literary form have been combined in order to create a book with the intention that it will be both trendy and literary enough to catch the eye of prize committees (tick), and set as a school syllabus text. Good luck to anyone who gets this on their GCSE reading list!