Book Review # 51: One by Sarah Crossan

Saturday, 18 July 2015
Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Bloomsbury.  I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion influenced by the fact that I received this free of charge. Now on with the review.

Title: One
Author: Sarah Crossan
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardback
Publication Date: September 1st 2015
Pages: 448
Review Copy from Publisher
PurchaseThe Book Depository / Waterstones

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?

I've seen lots of my blogger friends on Twitter reviewing this book recently and it definitely sounded like something that was down my street, so when I enquired to Bloomsbury and they accepted me for a review copy, I was ecstatic and knew I had to pick it up ASAP! I'm so glad that I did because I thought this was book was absolutely fabulous! Also, this was my first ever Sarah Crossan book and I can tell you now that I'm tempted to go and buy everything she has ever written because I loved it that much. So let's see in detail just what I thought about it!

First of all I need to point out that this book is written entirely in free verse which is something I did not know going into this book. I've never attempted to read a book written in free verse because I always questioned whether it would fully be able to capture the story. Boy were my expectations blown because I now realise free verse is the only way that this book should be written because it was hauntingly beautiful. I've never read anything quite so  gorgeous in such a long time so it was extremely refreshing to be introduced to another book I could add to my favourites. To answer the question to whether I found the reading experience any different or difficult to reading books not written in verse, I have to say not particularly. I obviously preferred the way it was written to normal but I admit I didn't find it hard to read because it read just like a normal novel, just separated across the page. One other thing that I found about free verse was that even though this book was over 400 pages, I found it to completely fly by because I could complete a whole page in less than 20 seconds, and I read quickly but for me this was insane!

The plot of this novel follows the lives of conjoined twins Grace and Tippi and explores the dramatic changes they have to make as they abandon homeschooling and venture into the world of public school, where they encounter stares, remarks and the meaning of true friendship. However not as all as it seems as while the novel progresses, various secrets begin to unravel which will change the twins lives forever. Oh my goodness this novel was extremely intense. There were so many elements that had me trying to catch my breath, especially the ending which I'll discuss my feelings on later. This novel deals strongly with the struggles of everyday life at home. With a father dealing with alcoholism and the mother losing her job, Grace and Tippi have to decide whether to surrender their pride to survive. Now obviously not everyone has these struggles in their homes but you'll be surprised at how some of them can cause an impact greater than you'd imagine. I thought the way that Sarah Crossan tackled these issues was extremely realistic and I found myself to feel extremely sorry for the twins as their lives changed from what they were at the beginning of the novel.

Now obviously when reading this book there are implications dotted throughout that suggest something beyond being conjoined is up with the twins, especially Grace as she struggles for breath often and occasionally falls unexpectedly. The novel takes a very drastic turn as the twins become hospitalised, with the eventual ending resulting in the death of one of the twins after eventual separation. I was not expecting the ending in the slightest and I found myself to be tearing up quite quickly over the result. As one twin grieved for the other I found myself missing all the little interactions between them that occurred throughout this novel. It has definitely left a huge impact on me and you can bet that this is a novel I will be returning to time and time again - although it's sad I find this to be one of my feel good books. Is that odd? 

Characters play a large roll in Grace and Tippi's lives so naturally they play quite a significant role in the overall story and Sarah Crossan does a superb job at creating such dynamic and realistic characters, especially the family figures. Both parents whilst dealing with their own issues in this novel never felt unreal or detrimental to the story and I think this was primarily down to the fact that the parents seemed to genuinely care, which is obviously a positive. Quite often in YA these days I find myself reading about parental figures who not only smother their children and speak to them like their very young, but also authors tend to skip on the fact that they actually need to care. I cannot praise Sarah enough for including this very basic but important fact in such a touching and heart-warming novel. I also really enjoyed the power of friendship in this novel. It was really powerful to read about. As for the sister Dragon, I loved her engagement with the twins and the fact that she herself was feeling the side effects of living in such a struggling household and it was refreshing to see her positive attitude after sacrificing so much for her sisters to be happy.

Overall this was a heartbreakingly touching novel that has clearly become one of my all time favourites. I laughed, loved and cried at this novel. It brought out all of the emotions in me and I can't say that many novels can bring me out in all of the feelings. It's so impressive to see the reactions it can bring out in the reader with so few words. It's truly amazing. I award One by Sarah Crossan 5 out of 5 stars on my classification scale. A novel that truly open's reader's eyes, minds and hearts to the idea of what it is to be truly whole. Together, we are one.

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