My edition: Hardback, published on 27 August 2015 by Bloomsbury Children's Books, 428 pages.
Description: 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…
It has been a while that I have read a novel where after turning the final page I feel speechless beyond uttering an amazed "wow" at what I'd just read, but the mesmerising One by Sarah Crossan is one such a read. Unique in not only story but writing format too, it has an incredible message at its core, which is told with such utter beauty and thoughtfulness that I relished each and every word within its pages.
Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins – or Siamese twins, as it is more commonly known – who due to financial difficulties for the first time in their lives will have to make the big step of leaving the protection of their family home on a regular basis to go to an ordinary high school. What follows is an unexpected and interesting journey as they face the predictive stares and sneers from the teenagers at their new school, yet also discover wonderful new things such as friendship and first love. But just when things start to fall into place for Grace and Tippi, it all comes crashing down – changing everything they've ever known.
If you couldn't already tell from the above description, this is an incredibly special novel. It's not only the characters that are different compared to what is most commonly found in YA fiction, but it is also written in verse, which I personally have never come across in a novel before, and which added an extra dimension of quirkiness to what was already a very unique story. Told from the perspective of main character Grace, her thoughts are depicted on the pages in an incredible fluency that almost makes it seem like we're right there in her head with her, rather than reading her words on paper. It provided a really interesting opportunity to feel an instant, very intimate connection with the character.
I have no personal experience of conjoined twins and admit I knew little about this prior to reading the novel and so not only was I completely engrossed by the beautiful yet heartrending story within its pages but I was also hugely fascinated by the more intricate details to what this meant for Grace and Tippi. Tumbling into their lives when they were already teenagers, to them the way they've learned to live alongside one another and do things together had become very normal and often happened automatically, but from an outsider's perspective every little thing they did, even just the way they coordinated walking together, was majestic
The struggle as it affected the entire family – including younger sister 'Dragon' and their father – was raw, complex and very honest, adding and incredible depth to what was otherwise a story told from a teenage girl's perspective and mainly focused on her first experiences at an actual school, her first crush and all the girly insecurities that come with that. The ordinary way in which Grace's feelings developed for a boy at school made this story, which almost could have been a bit fantastical at times, firmly rooted in reality and really brought the overall experience full-circle.
One was beautiful yet heart-wrenching, a stunning mixture of normal teenage angst and extra-ordinary circumstances. I have never come across anything quite like it and I don't think I ever will again. This is a must read not only for its teenage target audience but for adults too, heck everyone who can read. It's an eye-opening novel which speaks of tolerance, diversity and an incredible inner strength, and main character Grace is a powerful example to us all.
You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.
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Many thanks to Maximum Pop! Books for a copy of the novel through in exchange for an honest review.