I’ve been a fan of Sarah Crossan’s work since I reviewed ‘The Weight of Water’ for our 2013 Carnegie coverage [to read press here]. I’m not the only one, as she made it on to the Carnegie shortlist again this year with Apple and Rain which Claire reviewed a few weeks ago [press here to read].
One of the things I love about Sarah’s work is that she tells her story through verse, initially I was concerned that it may make the novels stodgy and difficult to read but I could not be more wrong. As the poems are short they minimise description therefore getting to the action, story and emotional heart of book without long wordy passages making them easy to read. Each poem tells an extract of the story, together building up to deliver the whole story. Using this unique form of storytelling, Sarah Crossan tackles subjects which become dark and gritty in a little and engaging way.
Sarah’s latest book, ‘One’ is told in this way, it brings you into the mind of teenager Grace, displaying her insecurities and all her teenage anxieties as she deals with her complicated family life and her twin sister Tippi. Being sisters and twins, Grace and Tippi have a strong bond, they have all the issues any other siblings face, and a good few more besides as they are conjoined. One, shows Graces inner feelings as she and Tippi venture to school for the first time, and as her family’s situation spirals when her mum is made redundant, and with medical bills piling up her Dads drinking problem worsens, even their younger sister Dragon has to work.
Seeing her family struggle, Grace persuades Tippi to allow a journalist to make a documentary about them, but as the camera’s begin to roll Graces secret is unveiled, and her health begins to fail, jeopardising both her and Tippi’s life.
One, is a moving story, it depicts the complications that life brings being conjoined, but it also explores the themes of family, love and individuality.
Child Review by Gigi aged 13
One is about a pair of ischiopagus tripus (sharing the same legs and torso) conjoined twins. They are called Tippi and Grace and the book is about they way they live together and how people are prejudiced to conjoined twins. One of the most significant thing about One is the sisters’ constant struggle to be individuals. They are always thought of as one and this book shows you what this must be like. Then when Grace develops heart problems they have a choice to make. Be separated and risk death, or don’t and know that it is definitely coming. At the same time they are also adapting to school and their lives are being filmed to make a documentary. But this book also touches on other issues and areas of discrimination such as HIV and anorexia. It gives you an inside view of how people live with these conditions and what their lives are really like.
One of my favourite things about One is the way that it is written. It is in first person in Grace’s point of view but is written in a way that is set out like poetry and each chapter is a different poem but yet it is not quite poetry. But poetry always makes you feel and it is the same with this book. It was compelling and I read it in one sitting. It is bittersweet in many parts but this just adds to the effect of the ‘almost poems’.
One is an amazing book and I would recommend it to everyone of about year seven and above. I love the way it is set out and the fact that it draws you in and makes you feel like you are there, so that you have to keep reading even while you're eating pasta at the supper table. Sarah Crossan is becoming one of my favourite authors, as I also love Apple and Rain, but this new book is even better.