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 received an electronic copy of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing UK & ANZ via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was a powerful book – heartwarming, heartbreaking and just incredibly poignant. Sarah Crossan has created such an important book about family, relationships and soul mates. This novel definitely made me think about things that I had never thought about before. It’s a little bit hard to put together all of my thoughts about this book, because I’m still processing it even now (and I probably will still be days from now). But hopefully this is a review that will make sense.
First, I need to comment on the writing in this book. This novel is written in free verse, which I had some qualms about initially. But after a couple of pages, I thought it was a fantastic and incredibly effective way of telling the story. It was fast-paced (despite being 400+ pages, I finished this book in about 2 hours) and it added more emotion to the story than if it had been written in prose. Each line was so well thought out and everything was there for a reason.
One is such a well researched book. It was extremely informative and I learnt so many things about conjoined twins and how they experience the world, which is actually not that different to how a singleton experiences the world. I think Crossan did a brilliant job at normalising the issue. The message that I took away from the book was that, there’s nothing freakish or tragic about them and there’s nothing particularly inspirational about them either. They’re just normal people who may go through some extra hardships because they share a part of themselves with their twin.
This book explores some of those hardships, such as expensive medical bills, lack of privacy and free will at times, and the difficulty of forming romantic relationships. But this book also has a heavy focus on the relationship and bond between conjoined twins and the fact that there is someone who you can be One with. It emphasises the idea that it isn’t always necessary for conjoined twins to have separation surgery and many never want to be parted. For me, the author did a great job of showing us how ordinary conjoined twins can be, while also highlighting that they don’t have it easy either.
It was difficult at times to read about the physical struggles that Grace and Tippi had to go through. They both needed to stay in bed even when only one of them had the flu, and the negative effects of drinking and smoking affects not only the person doing it but the other person too. It was tough but also heartwarming watching them trying to be seen by others as two individuals but going through the realisation that they were not only partners in life but also an integral part of each other.
She’s me entirely
and without her
there would be
a gaping space
in my chest,
an expanding black hole
There was some romance in the book but it wasn’t the main focus on the story, which I liked a lot. It was there to highlight the difficulties that conjoined twins experience with having romantic relationships, but it wasn’t a crucial aspect to the story. I appreciated that the book focused on the connection and love between twins and explored that in detail rather than throwing in a whole bunch of issues that could have been underdeveloped. The book could have easily gone in the direction of focusing on bullying and nonacceptance from peers, but I’m glad that it chose to emphasise the love between twins and the love between family members. And importantly, I could also feel all the love that Sarah Crossan put into writing this book. I can’t wait to pick up something else by her.