Cover of One by Sarah Crossan. A lacework paperdoll of two conjoined girls, with a red heart in the middle

About the Book

Title: One
Published: 2015

Cover Story: Too Girly For This Cowboy
Drinking Buddy: It Goes Straight to Our Bladder
Testosterone Estrogen Level: Like They Needed More Problems
Talky Talk: Worse in Verse?
Bonus Factors: HIV+
Bromance Status: Grim Curiosity Leads to Lasting Friendship

Cover Story: Too Girly For This Cowboy

It’s a beautiful cover, perfectly summing up the ‘two in one’ theme of the book. But the lacework and heart mean I never would have given this book a second look as a teenager.

The Deal:

So Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins. Separate above the waist, but sharing an intestinal tract and a single pair of legs. They’ve been home schooled all their lives. But their father is out of work and the donations have dried up. They’re going to have to go to school. Fortunately, they get a scholarship to a fancy pants private academy.

No one in the school has ever met anyone like these sisters, and there’s a lot of staring, insults, and rude questions. Luckily, Grace and Tippi quickly meet up with Yasmeen, the resident ‘bad girl’, and for the first time they have a real friend. And soon they have one more. Jon. The artist with the shaved head and hand tattoos. The handsome boy who treats the girls as two people, rather than one odd thing. The guy who encourages Grace and her dreams. The long looks, the subtle flirting, the occasional hand holding. Could Grace actually have a…boyfriend? And how does Tippi feel about this development?

Drinking Buddy: It Goes Straight to Our Bladder

Two pints of beer cheersing

So it’s always give and take with siblings. Who gets the car Friday night, who hogs the bathroom, who’s the parents’ favorite? But since Grace and Tippi are rather closer than most sisters, they have to deal with unique situations. Like when Tippi starts smoking. It’s not like Grace can go in the other room. Or when Grace gets drunk. Tippi can’t really be the designated driver. And what’s going to happen if Grace and Jon want to get close? They can’t ask Tippi go run off to the movies.

And yet, the twins make it work. When they go to therapy, they take turns wearing headphones so the other can have privacy. When they take driving lessons, they’re in sync enough to work the pedals. And when anyone brings up the idea of surgery to separate them, they are unified in saying ‘no way.’

I’d love to have a drink with both of these two distinct, totally unique sisters.

Testosterone Estrogen Level: Like They Needed More Problems

The sisters’ medical condition isn’t their major issue. Their father has been out of work forever and is drinking his troubles away. Their mother’s job is in danger as well, so their younger sister, Dragon, has to give up her dream trip to study ballet in Russia.

Of course, if Grace and Tippi were to agree to be the stars of an intrusive reality TV show, then the family’s money troubles would be over. Hey, nothing can go wrong there.

The sisters face their problems with the grit and determination that can only come from having no choice whatsoever. But hey, they have each other. They’ll always have each other.

Until Grace’s heart starts failing.

Talky Talk: Worse in Verse?

This is a book in verse, so it’s more or less nothing but Grace’s train of thought. That makes for a fast read, rapid plot advancement, and a lot of interior monologues. I enjoyed getting into Grace’s head, but not everyone appreciates this sort of book.

Still, it was fascinating to read the tale of two young people in such a unique situation. Readers will not be able to relate to the main characters’ condition, but it’s certainly a compelling read. Especially when Grace and Trippi have to decide whether to die together…or have one survive alone.

Bonus Factor: HIV+

HIV red ribbon

So why is Yasmeen so cool around the sisters? Why does she never make an ignorant comment or ask a stupid question? How did she get to be so understanding?

Because she’s HIV positive. Got it from her mother, breastfeeding. Yasmeen made the mistake of being open about her condition, and now a lot of people avoid her. But she has her friend Jon, and now she has the twins. And when you get enough outcasts together, then they’re no longer outcasts.

Bromance Status: Grim Curiosity Leads to Lasting Friendship

I admit, I only read this book due to its odd nature. But I’m glad I did. You’re unique and special, and completely weird. Just like all the good books.

FTC full disclosure: I received neither money nor beer for this review, and quite frankly, that kind of hurts. One is available now.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.