One by Sarah Crossan
Published in 2015 by Bloomsbury Childrens
My copy: Library
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.
This sad yet strangely uplifting tale is told by Grace – named after Grace Kelly – who is conjoined with her twin Tippi – named after Tippi Hedren – their parents were big Hitchcock fans! The twins have made it to the age of 16 despite doctors saying they would only survive a few years at best, and they have up to this point been home-educated. But now they have to start school, which is a scary prospect for obvious reasons. But there they make some friends and find themselves enjoying their new lives. But of course their life is constantly challenging, and nothing is plain sailing.
This book is told entirely in free prose, which at first I found a bit distracting, but soon got used to. To be honest I didn’t feel this added anything to the story except for making the odd line stand out – and also something was done with the formatting of the book towards the end which was very clever. Instead all I felt it did was make the book a bit quirky, and also stretch it out to over 400 pages – if written ‘normally’ this would have been a novella of around 100-150 pages or so I guess.
But overall I really enjoyed the story. It is very sad and touching, and it is also a book that really makes you think. You can understand why people react the way they do when they see the twins, and are curious and want to ask questions. But you can also see how irritating this must get for the girls, who know nothing different. I also liked the relationship between the two – they are like one person a lot of the time, but occasionally they long to be apart and have their own experiences.
The experiences of the twins seemed realistic and convincing, and I think this was a brave novel to write. I definitely think it’s a good book for younger readers to hear a story from quite a unique perspective.