One

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
One Book Poster Image
Beautiful, emotional free-verse novel about conjoined twins.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Medical facts about conjoined twins and historical information on the lives of famous conjoined twins. Saint Catherine of Siena and Plato discussed. Two characters love to read, including the books The Grapes of Wrath, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Orlando, Jane Eyre, and Ulysses. Other cultural touchstones include the painting "Friendship" by Pablo Picasso, the ballets Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet, the films of Alfred Hitchcock, and various New York City landmarks. The book is written in free verse, so readers will get a good dose of storytelling through poetry.

Positive Messages

What some people might consider a tragedy, such as being conjoined twins, can end up being a beautiful, unique thing. Sometimes you have to make a difficult choice if it's the best thing for all involved. Embrace what makes you different, rather than trying to be like everyone else. Be a compassionate person.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tippi and Grace often put the feelings of other people first. They deal with their medical condition well, without a lot of self-pity. They are kind, considerate, and loving to their friends and family. Their sister Dragon is compassionate and helpful toward Grace and Tippi. The girls' parents are dealing with a lot of serious issues, but they do their best to care for their kids, and one gets some much-needed help. Jon and Yasmeen are caring, nonjudgmental friends to the twins. Friend Caroline puts the girls' mental and physical health above documenting their lives.

Violence

There's a risky surgery, not described graphically.

Sex

French kissing, cuddling.

Language

Infrequent use of profanity: "a--hole," "s--t" and its variations, "f--k" and its variations, "hell," "piss," "God," "bastard," "bulls--t," and "bitch."

Consumerism

Wite-Out, YouTube, Scrabble, Sprite, Coke, McDonald's, Burger King, Kleenex, iPhone, Judge Judy, Law & Order, and Psycho.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult character is an alcoholic and shown drinking and drunk several times. Teens smoke cigarettes and get drunk on beer, cider, and hard alcohol on a few occasions. Teens skip class to drink and smoke. Teens stay out all night drinking and eating hash brownies. A teen drinks a beer in a car on a road trip.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sarah Crossan's One is an arresting free-verse novel about seven months in the lives of conjoined twins Tippi and Grace. The girls have been homeschooled their whole lives, but a family financial crisis means they need to start attending a high school. The twins are not depicted as freaks or played for shock value. In fact, they're smart, compassionate, interesting characters, facing many troubles other teens do, with the added complication of being conjoined twins. Teens smoke cigarettes and drink on a few occasions and eat hash brownies once. Two characters kiss and cuddle, but that's about it for sex. Profanity is infrequent (includes "s--t" and its variations, "f--k" and its variations, and "a--hole"). The free-verse style is accessible and could excite readers about storytelling though poetry.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 14 years old Written byEvelynh June 29, 2017

Great storyline, not so great extra content

I loved the story line, but alongside the story there was much swearing, people addicted to harmful things and people under age drinking and smoking. So I woul... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byDontEvenTry April 3, 2018

Good book!

This is a good book. I read this book when I was 12 and I loved it. It is an emotional book and has a lovely story. It was the carnigie medal of 2016. However i... Continue reading

What's the story?

Tippi and Grace are unusual twins, in that they're conjoined and have survived for 16 years. The two love each other deeply and don’t yearn to be separated, except for when the usual annoyances crop up, such as one wanting to get up when the other is asleep. They know their bodies might not be able to sustain them both forever, but even so, they wouldn't trade their life together for anything. ONE begins with the girls learning they can no longer be homeschooled and will be enrolling in a new school soon. In addition to dealing with their medical condition and possible complications, the girls are faced with learning to navigate a new school, making friends, their dad's drinking, their family's dire financial situation, and other issues. The story is written in free verse and told from Grace's point of view. She relates how their medical condition looms over the family, causing some family members' needs to get lost in the shuffle, which makes the twins feel guilty. Even though they've been joined at the waist all their lives, Grace and Tippi are of different minds. And as the school year goes on, the two must grapple with some crucial, life-altering decisions.

Is it any good?

This lyrical, moving story of conjoined twins is told in free verse and packs a surprising emotional punch. The storytelling style adds to rather than detracts from the plot and character development. Tippi and Grace take on typical teen issues, but these issues are magnified because of their medical condition. Author Sarah Crossan successfully strikes a balance between keeping the story light when needed and not veering too far into pathos and melodrama when the story takes more serious turns. Sometimes the twins' problems are amusing; for example, Tippi likes coffee and Grace doesn't, but she still has to deal with the buzz. Other concerns that are serious enough for regular teens are harder on them, such as dating, making choices about drinking and smoking, and making some important medical decisions.

They also grapple with a fair bit of guilt over their family's money troubles, their parents' problems, and their younger sister often getting ignored. Their feelings about these problems are deep and often heartrending. This could have been a cloying or shock-driven novel, but it's not. Tippi and Grace are wonderfully developed, engaging characters, and none of the other characters is one-dimensional. The free-verse approach lets the story flow and adds detail in a beautiful way, offering up snippets that speak volumes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how it feels to be different. Some kids want to be like everyone else, while others try hard to stand out. Do you try to hide what makes you different? Do you work hard to make sure people know you're not like everyone else? Is there a downside to trying too hard to be one way or the other?

  • Reality shows that depict the "real lives" of certain groups of people often take a lot of heat. Have you ever learned anything from these shows? What do you think of the people who star in them? What reasons do you think they have for opening up their lives in this way?

  • When you read a book recommended by someone else, do you feel a connection to that person through the book? What books have you read that you want everyone to read?

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