Monday 24 August 2015

Reviewed by Arianne: One by Sarah Crossan.

Product details:  
Publisher: Bloomsbury.
Hardcover, 448 pages.
Release date: August 26th 2015.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Ages: 13+
Reviewed by: Arianne.

 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?

2015 has been a stellar year for young adult fiction. But between all the blockbuster bestsellers and impassioned calls-to-arms, sometimes it feels like there’s no room left for the unexpected stories. For surprising stories that don’t come with built-in paparazzi glamour, all eye-catching headlines and interminable debate. For the stories you pick up by chance – and suddenly can’t stop reading, because they've captured your heart and refuse to let go. 

This year, One was that book for me – and it is phenomenal. Crossan is an incredible writer, spinning a tale so astonishing you won’t want to look away. In fact, a book like One could only have come from Sarah Crossan, because this isn’t just a book. It’s a work of art. 

One tells the extraordinarily emotional story of sisters Tippi – ferocious, vocal, captivating Tippi, who perhaps acts more confident than she really is – and Grace – quiet, defensive, talented Grace, who keeps her secrets and often, her dreams, to herself. Named for legendary actresses Tippi Hedren and Grace Kelly, they are two of the most well-realized and well-drawn characters I’ve ever seen in YA. 

Grace is our storyteller, but Crossan weaves her characters with such elegance and clarity, it feels as if we’re seeing everyone’s world at once. I’m a huge fan of the girls' fourteen-year-old sister, Dragon (hands down one of the best nicknames I've ever seen in YA). She’s funny, sharp, and dedicated, but she’s had to grow up very fast and make huge sacrifices of her own. Her talent for ballet is a wonderful addition to the novel and I wished we could have spent more time with her, as it never escapes the reader that she's facing challenges, too. 

Feisty and complicated Yasmeen deserves a book all of her own, and she was definitely my favourite supporting character. Tippi and Grace’s home is far from happy, and is often a difficult place to be, so alongside Jon, Yasmeen helps open both heroines’ eyes to the world beyond, from the perils of high school to the value of friendship. There’s even first love on the horizon for Jon and Grace – but this is Sarah Crossan, and nothing’s ever that easy. She doesn’t shy away from harsh realities, but the book is so carefully and smartly written, you almost don’t see the gut punches coming until they’re seconds away.

One is a book about individuality and choices; about moments of glimmering happiness and the unbearable idea of loss. Sarah Crossan does more with ten words than most authors do with a thousand; she conjures characters and illustrates her tale as if casting a spell, keeping your eyes locked on her intensely realistic descriptions and brilliant storytelling from start to finish. 

One is deeply original, too - because this is a novel in verse (usually not my kind of thing at all, but here, utter perfection) and Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins facing an uncertain future. And rather than being exploitative, this is a fierce and striking novel that tells readers to shove pity where the sun doesn’t shine and to simply bask in the beauty of the writing. The pages fly by, but the story stays with you long after you’ve finished reading.

In short: One is a heart-shattering story of sisterhood from one of the most elegant and talented voices in YA fiction. It reads fast and hurts faster. It’s painful, profound, and very, very real. Beautifully written, incredibly powerful and always surprising, this is a book that demands, deserves and needs to be read. A work of art.


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