One is a story about sisters; twins. But not twins as you would normally assume – instead, Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, permanently living side–by–side and sharing more than most.
My attention was initially captured by the gorgeous, and simple cover, and I was left even more intrigued by the inside description – books about, or featuring, twins are all too common, but this was the first fiction novel I’d ever seen about conjoined twins, and it was quickly added to the (ridiculously large!) pile of books I was bringing home from September’s trip to New York and Boston.
Despite being a relatively thick–looking book, I actually found it to be a pretty quick read – due, in part, to the prose style in which it was written – which I have since discovered is called free verse. The layout was similar to that of a poem, with the sentences being very short and staggered over a few lines, like so:
“Normal is the Holy Grail
and only those without it
know its value.”
I like to think it was set out that way to show it was only the story of one sister – as if to say, ‘they may be twins, and conjoined ones at that, but they are really separate girls who have their own stories to tell’. It was almost as if half the page was to be kept for Tippi, despite this being Grace telling their – and in turn, her – story. This may have been unintentional from the author, but I like to think the fact that Grace makes it pretty clear she is the quieter twin who lets Tippi do the talking adds a bit of proof to my theory.
The characters who feature alongside the twins are their parents, younger sister “Dragon”, and their grandmother – as well as new friends who appear on the scene when they finally, aged 16, attend school, after year of being home–schooled by their mother. The way different characters (including other school pupils) interact with the girls, and vice versa, is written really well and all seem like accurate and plausible reactions – nothing feels fake or unbelievable, as was a risk of happening when writing about a not–often covered topic.
Trying not to give much away is proving more difficult than I had initially anticipated, but I will say that One sends you away feeling a whole host of emotions – whilst it’s not hugely complex, there are certainly some moment which make you think, as well as a fair few quips worth a laugh or to at least bring a smile to your face! Don’t get me wrong, it has its fair share of sad parts too, a lot of which aren’t overly expected – I first read this waiting at the airport for the flight back home, and it was pretty difficult to hold back tears at some points.
Overall, One is a book well worth reading, and I don’t think I could recommend it more.