One by Sarah Crossan – Told in free-verse, a raw and unflinching story about conjoined twins


Grace and Tippi. Tippi and Grace. Two sisters. Two hearts. Two dreams. Two lives. But one body.

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy.

But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi.

How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?

My review:

Heartfelt, poignant, and emotionalOne is about sisterhood, the essence of life, and the irrevocable bond between two twins conjoined at the hip. The twins are Grace and Tippi, and though they share the same body from the waist down, they could not be more different. They are their own person after all; Grace is quiet and reserved, whilst Tippi is assured and fierce. Together, they are a pair in sync, a pair against the world.

Here we are. And we are living. Isn’t it amazing? How we manage to be at all.

Written beautifully in free verse, One explores Grace and Tippi’s life; things as mundane as their everyday routine to their extraordinary first day at school. Family is thoroughly explored in this novel and is viewed with a raw and empathetic lens. It looks at the burdens of their father’s alcoholism and mother’s unemployment, the reserved but ultimately loving relationships that Grace and Tippi share with their sister Dragon, the small but significant strains on their less-than-normal family, but also the immense love they all have for one another. One also looks at how relationships form and bloom, and asks how deeply friendships and romantic relationships can be shared with your conjoined twin. Needless to say, the narrative is incredibly unique.

The narrative also offers an honest portrayal of Grace and Tippi’s tribulations. Namely, the invasive questions – from ignorance or curiousity – that are asked and the societal pressures of being very different in a sea of sameness. It also portrayed the financial hardships from the many medical appointments that litter their life, showing why conjoined twins might seek the media to alleviate their monetary burdens. There is also an exploration of what it means to try and be ‘normal’, the intrinsic desire to be ‘normal’, and the oppressive pressures to be ‘normal’ – but with a resolution that you may not expect. All in all, we are given an all-rounded view of Grace and Tippi’s life without any romanticization or trivialization of their adversities.

Normal is the Holy Grail
and only those without it
know its value.

What I loved the most about One was its beautiful, introspective narrative. It was sometimes heartfelt, and made my heart swell with an appreciation for the small beauties in life. It was sometimes heartbreaking from the small doubts and uncertainties that plagued their life. As a whole, the lives we are presented with are full and rounded, balanced with the pleasures of life as well as its obstacles. The subtle analysis of individuality and its limitations were sensitively written and poignant. Where does Grace end and Tippi begin? Where does Tippi begin and Grace end? The story does not provide a clear answer, but the introspection and reflections were provocative and emotional.

Parts of the narrative can be vague – which can be either a good or bad thing. Good, if you are willing to put in effort to see the messages in between the lines; bad, if you see this as a symptom of being underdeveloped. Both are valid perspectives – and though I loved this book, One introduces a plethora of ideas and implies much but given its length, only a few of these ideas were explored. Because of this, I enjoyed reading One and would recommend it wholeheartedly, but it was not a book that latched onto my heart. Nonetheless, Crossan has written an affecting, poignant story. One may be few in words, but those few words spoke volumes.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Goodreads | Book Depository | My review on Goodreads

Is this book for you?

Premise in a sentence: Conjoined twins must face a difficult decision that may threaten both their lives.

Perfect for: Readers who like free-verse, interested in the struggles of conjointed twins, and a unique narrative.

Genre: Young adult, contemporary, poetry

Recommended? Yes, but only if you enjoy free-verse!

Trigger/content warnings: none (if you have read this book and can advise of triggers I might not have picked up on, please let me know!)

Let’s discuss!

  • Have you read One? If so, what did you think of it?
  • What are some of your favourite books that are written in free-verse? Any recommendations?
  • Have you read a story about conjoined twins before?

9 thoughts on “One by Sarah Crossan – Told in free-verse, a raw and unflinching story about conjoined twins

  1. I completely agree! This is such a powerful and emotional book and I’m so glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. :) Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

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