YA Shot Guest Post with Lucy Coats – Where I Write and How I Do It

Today I am very excited to have Lucy Coats on my blog once more, this as part of the YA Shot Blog Tour, talking about where she writes and how she does it.

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I write all
of my books in the little room directly above my kitchen. To get to it, I have to climb a set of steep, blue-painted stairs which still have a child gate at the top, useful for keeping out itinerant grannies and other distracting visitors. The room itself is light and airy, even though it’s crammed under the roof, and, like most of the rooms in my house, it’s stuffed full of books. Mostly, they have a reason to be there. On the left of the desk are my current research books, dictionaries, notebooks, and writing-related tomes. On the other walls are shelves of myths, fairy stories, and more research and reference, including lots of Latin and Greek translations of Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Aeschylus and more. There are also my own books – 37 of them to date, in various editions and translations, (which take up a good few shelves), as well as a tatty dog sofa (I have three writing dogs), my grandma’s rocking horse, a fabulous alabaster sculpture by my friend Aly and, on the door, the only existing ‘real world’ piece of my own art – a shamanic banner from the 90s, painted on an old pillowcase.

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My desk looks out over green fields full of sheep, and a tiny stream, which floods the lawn in the winter. It’s surrounded by pictures of my latest characters (of which more later), quotes, inspirational postcards, a Brilliant Reading Rest stand, pens (mostly purple and green), piles of paper and general writing junk. On the windowsill there’s also a large Moomin and one of Meg Rosoff’s Ecks (from There Is No Dog) nesting in my lucky Glastonbury hat. Behind me is probably the most important piece of technical-writinginspirationparaphernalia I have, my sturdy ninja flipchart on wheels.

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This room is my sanctuary (except when it’s not). Every morning I go up there and lock myself away. If the door and the gate are shut, (and the Red Rope of Doom hung on the gate), then everyone is supposed to know not to come in on pain of snarly shouting and growling. (Naturally, my 90 year-old mum refuses to obey this rule.) This is the engine-room of my writing, the place where the fire is lit after the initial ignition of an idea spark. Of course, that’s the question I get asked most – ‘Where do your ideas come from?’. Everywhere and anywhere is the answer – I’m never short of them. The difficulty can be choosing which one to fly with. Sometimes I think I have The One – and then it fizzles out into nothing. Usually it’s the one which has been niggling at my brain for a while that works out best.

My process can take a very long time from that initial spark to finished book – it depends on what kind of book it is, because I write for all ages from two to teen. A novel definitely takes longest – though I’ve had picture books which only come to fruition years later. In theory, once I’ve done the thinking and composting bit and decided to write a new novel, I’ll do a brief synopsis of plot and characters, and then write a few thousand words to check out voice. With a YA novel or a series I have to know that I like the characters, because I’m going to be living with them for a while. With CLEO, I wrote in third person to start with, and didn’t like it after 10,000 words, so switched to first. I was really surprised (and a bit worried) when this snarky and modern-sounding girl came into my head, but she stuck, and I could really hear her speaking, which is always a good sign. It clearly worked, because my agent loved it, and sold both CLEO (and its sequel, CHOSEN, which comes in March 2016) to Orchard Books on just 13,000 words and a synopsis.

That’s when the hard work really began. I will admit now that I used to be a ‘pantser’, writing the book with just a few plot wayposts to go on and working it out as I went. I soon found that with a double helping of historical/paranormal, a long book and a large cast of characters, I couldn’t do that any more. That’s when I turned into a proper ‘plotter’ – and where my ninja flip chart comes in. I’m a great believer in the ‘creative napfor ironing out plot and story arc – so I do that, and then, while my mind is still in that whirly space somewhere to the left of my brain, I mind map it all on the flip chart, then type it all out in detail so I know exactly where I’m going. I use that technique whenever I have a plot problem to work out. Of course there are still places where the character will make a detour and say, ‘No! I’m not doing THAT, I’m doing THIS,’ but that’s fine as long as I get back to the main road afterwards.

The other thing I do at this stage is to find photos of what I think my characters look like, and download them onto my InspirePro painting app on the iPad. I’ll fiddle about with them, painting in new hair colour or features or whatever, making them ‘mine’, and then I’ll transfer them to FXPhoto Studio and fiddle around some more (you can see what I did with Cleo, Charm and Khai on my Pinterest page). I need to physically see them – hence the printouts stuck up by my desk.

The actual writing itself I do straight onto my Mac – and for each book I use the Scrivener app, about which I am evangelical. Every piece of useful research I discover on the internet, relevant notes transferred from my ‘book notebook’, timelines, all my detailed character lists, all my lists of settings, a link to my Pinterest board for the book – as well as the chapters themselves (with word targets) go on Scrivener. I wouldn’t be without it for anything. Mostly I do that in my writing room – day in day out – editing as I go, with occasional trips out to the library (or British Museum) for research. I couldn’t live without libraries – though some of the university ones (like the Perseus archive at Tufts) are now digital, which is useful for a writer who lives in the depths of the countryside. Libraries are important for everyone, and I’m passionate about preserving the ones we still have left.

However, there comes a point (usually about halfway through the book) when the walls close in – and when I need to escape for some concentrated writing peace and quiet. Because I have a busy life and a family, there are always annoying interruptions to my writing day (despite that closed door and Red Rope of Doom). With my first novel, I escaped to a cottage in Donegal, lent to me by a kind friend. With CLEO I was lucky enough to borrow a flat in Venice, and with CHOSEN, I escaped to Devon, to a writing retreat where I managed to write 30,000 words in 11 days.

Back in the writing room, and on the final stretch, I’ll turn on AntiSocial to stop me faffing about on Facebook, Twitter or my new obsession, Instagram. I always cry when I write ‘The End’. It’s a kind of cathartic and blessed release from the joy-pain of writing the damn thing – and then, of course, it starts all over again with the next book.

 

Finding Time to Write

Last week I wrote a bit about my relationship with writing and how I do it. This week I’m admitting that that’s not always the case…

I spoke a lot about routine and how that helped me to commit to writing. But the only way that works is if you stick to the routine, and I’ve not been good at that of late.

I have my excuses, of course, as everyone does. The first was the pregnancy news: that threw me a little and I spent a while unable to think of anything else, plus the tiredness made me just want to crawl back into bed straight after work.

Then came moving house, which, while technically only a tw0 day activity, it did involve a lot of sorting out and tidying for a fair few weeks afterwards – and we’re still not done, the baby’s room still has far too much junk in still to be sorted.

But now my excuses are starting to wear a little thin. The house is pretty much sorted, the pregnancy tiredness is ebbing and I do have some time in the evenings and definitely at the weekends to write. But, since moving house I’ve barely touched my MS and have done minimal amounts of edits.

I do keep telling myself that I’ll do it, but so far it’s not working. I think my only excuse is that, with all my traveling for work, I am pretty exhausted by the time I get home. But I know I could do it if I really tried.

My lovely partner, who is always encouraging me in my writing, even went to Argos a couple of weeks ago and brought me home a desk (and by brought I mean he carried it back by hand as we don’t have a car – he is that lovely). The desk is now built and installed in the nursery and has all my stuff on it just the way I want it, but it’s still not been used for anything writing related.

Also, I am aware that as I’m writing this on a Saturday evening, I should really be writing/editing, rather than writing about not having time to write… the irony s not lost on me.

Does anyone else find they just don’t have time to write, or have enough excuses to ensure they never get round to it? And, more importantly, anyone have any tips to get out of this cycle?!

Book Review: Birdy (Jess Vallance)

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 272

Release Date: July 2nd 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

Frances Bird has been a loner for so long that she’s given up on ever finding real friendship. But then she’s asked to show a new girl around school, and she begins to think her luck could finally be changing.

Eccentric, talkative and just a little bit posh, Alberta is not at all how Frances imagined a best friend could be. But the two girls click immediately, and it’s not long before they are inseparable. Frances could not be happier.

As the weeks go on, Frances finds out more about her new best friend – her past, her secrets, her plans for the future – and she starts to examine their friendship more closely.

Is it, perhaps, just too good to be true?

Review:

Big thanks to author Jess Valance,  who sent me a copy of this book when I had packed all mine away while moving house (this doesn’t affect my review in any way).

First off, I have to say that is one gorgeous cover! It draws you in immediately and really sums up the book for me: dark and intriguing.

The book starts great as well: it’s France recording ‘her version of events’ which sounds foreboding and makes you want to speed through quickly to find out what happened.

Frances is a really sympathetic character: a classic loner who, while not outrageously odd, just doesn’t fit in with any of your usual groups at school. So when Bert comes along and actually seems to want to be friends with her, you can’t help but feel happy for her.

While I sympathised with Frances at school, it was her home life that really made me feel for her. With no mother or father, she lives with her strict Grandmother and her Grandfather who suffers from dementia. The descriptions just left me feeling hollow inside: the idea of dreading evenings with the same rotation of meals, the long weekends with nothing to do, and the even longer holiday weeks that stretch out endlessly. Having recently lived with my Grandmother, who has dementia, I found some of the interactions with the Grandfather difficult to read as it touched really close to home.

As the friendship between Frances and Bert grows, there’s something uneasy about it. It reminded me of another book but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson, where the friendship is so all consuming it feels almost dangerous. I felt quite tense reading it, just waiting for it all to blow up.

It did blow up of course, but not in the way I expected, which I loved. It all felt very clever: Vallance sets you up with certain expectations at the beginning of the book – at first I felt a little disappointed that the book foreshadowed what was about to happen, but that was my fault for assuming I knew what was going on! I won’t say too much as I don’t want to spoil it, but the ending really sucked me in and took me by surprise and I couldn’t quite believe what was happening.

This was such a great read, I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re looking for a dark and twisted tale of friendship and betrayal then this is definitely for you!

4

If you enjoyed this, you might like Seed by Lisa Heathfield

Book Review: Dark Room (Tom Becker)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 352

Release Date: September 10th 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

When Darla and her feckless dad, Hopper, move to Saffron Hills, Darla hopes it’ll be a new start for the both of them. But she stands no chance of fitting in with the image-obsessed in-crowd at her new school. Then one of her classmates is brutally killed when taking a photo of herself. A murder Darla herself predicted in a bloody vision. When more teens die in a similar fashion it appears that a serial killer is on the loose – the ‘Selfie Slayer’. Darla alone is convinced that the murderer might not be flesh and blood…

Review:

I’ve been a big fan of the Red Eye series since reading Frozen Charlotte at the beginning of this year. Horror is one of my favourite genres and I’m so glad that there’s a group putting out great horror for YA.

I loved the idea for this book: one feature of horror is often the fear of technology and changing times, and what’s more relevant at the moment than the selfie? You can scroll through social media without seeing one, they’re happening all around you in the street, and there’s even people in the news with selfie addictions. So to me this sounds like a perfect horror story.

I had wanted it to be a little more supernatural. I love the idea that even taking a selfie can cause your death somehow: kind of reminiscent of the old Goosebumps Say Cheese and Die book (one my sister used to read to scare me before bedtime). In that way, the book didn’t quite live up to my expectation.

There were other elements that I loved though. Darla is a great protagonist: you can’t help but feel for her as she moves from one life to the next, and when she moves to Saffron Hills you do hope things will work out for her, even though you know it won’t… I wasn’t too sure about the friends she managed to make, and they did put me off a little, but I think this was intentional, as you’ll see when you read it.

I did manage to guess the killer around half way through, which was a little disappointing, but there’s a lot of details that go around that which I couldn’t have guessed at all, so there were still some surprises there for me. I loved (if that’s the right word?) some of the murders too: they were very graphic and I could picture it in such horrific detail that it did make me feel uncomfortable. This is definitely not one for the faint hearted!

This is another hit for the Red Eye series and I do hope it continues in this way. I’ve yet to find a book that creeped me out as much as Frozen Charlotte did – I want to issue that as a challenge to Red Eye, because I am so ready to be scared!

4

If you enjoyed this, you might like Frozen Charlotte, also in the Red Eye series.

Book Review: Forever (Judy Blume)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Pages: 202

Release Date: January 1st 2015 (originally published 1975)

 

Summary (from Goodreads):

Katherine and Michael meet at a New Year’s Eve party. They’re attracted to each other, they grow to love each other. And once they’ve decided their love is forever, they make love.

It’s the beginning of an intense and exclusive relationship, with a future all planned. Until Katherine’s parents insist that she and Michael put their love to the test with a summer apart…

“Forever” is written for an older age group than Judy Blume’s other novels for children. It caused a storm of controversy when it was first published because of its explicit sexual content.

Review:

It’s been far too long since I read a book by Judy Blume. I remember reading several as a youngster, but the one that really sticks in my mind is Blubber. That chocolate ant scene has always stayed with me! I was really excited when Forever came up on NetGalley as it was the perfect excuse to get back into a bit o’ Blume.

What I loved about Forever was how real it felt: from the awkward beginnings of the relationship, to the intense obsession and the surety that you’re going to be together forever (no matter what your parents say) to that moment when you realise that forever doesn’t always mean forever at that age. I know I’ve been there when I was 17, and I think that’s part of the charm of the book: it’s so relatable, for someone older who can remember that time with some some fondness, and for someone who’s going through that exact situation and needs to know that it doesn’t matter if your forever doesn’t work out.

In the beginning, I struggled a little with the ages of the characters. They sometimes felt a little younger than the age I realised they were supposed to be. But I think this could also be due to the fact that it’s American and I’m not sure what grade equals what age.

I know this book caused a bit of a storm when it originally came out and I can only imagine what kind of effect it would have had on me then. As it was, the sexual content wasn’t too shocking for me, but this is 30 years on and I’m an adult and we live in the era of Fifty Shades of Grey

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I think it’s a real recommended read for any teenager, or a slightly older ‘teenager’ wanting to relive a memorable part of their youth.

4

Books I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read Yet + GIVEAWAY

I have stopped buying books recently. This is for a variety of reasons, mainly:

  • I’ve recently moved house and am pregnant so money is not as easy to come by!
  • I have so many books to read, I really can’t justify buying new ones
  • I’ve been reading less lately, due to said house move and general business

Still, there are some books that I am desperate to read and they’ve been really trying my ‘no book buying’ resolve. So, in a backwards way to combat this, I’ve decide to blog about the books I really want to (and can’t believe I haven’t yet) read, and then have a little giveaway too. Because buying books for other people is always lovely, and I feel I should celebrate my blog relaunch in some way too.

So here are the books I am most desperate to read:

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Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

I loved O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours – it was one of my favourite reads this year, and I’ve been recommending/buying it for everyone I can. I was super excited for her next book to come out, and I’ve heard only great things about it. It’s a temptation everytime I see it in a book shop, and I really can’t believe I haven’t caved yet!

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The Rest of us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

I’ve been a Patrick Ness fan since reading his Chaos Walking trilogy back when I was a teen. Again, I’ve heard great things about this book and I’ve been waiting to read it for so long! I guess I can wait a little longer… I was lucky enough to get all of Ness’ books for my birthday (bar this one, which wasn’t out then) so I do have plenty of his to catch up on first.

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Queen of Shadows by Sara J. Maas

I’m pretty late to the Throne of Glass books, having only finished the first 3 a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure why I put off reading them, because they were wonderful and I adored them. Having read them recently, it is tempting to pick up the latest one while the story is fresh in my mind, bu I’m managing to resist for now.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

While I’ve heard mixed opinions of this book, I still really want to read it. I bought it for a friend for her birthday earlier this year and she absolutely adored it: we have pretty similar tastes, so I think this is one I should read. At the rate I;m going though, the sequel will probably already be out by the time I get round to it.

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A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

I love fairy tale re-imaginings, and Sleeping Beauty is one of my favourite stories/favourite Disney films, so this one seems perfect for me. I happened to chance by it once and fell in love with the cover. I also can’t imagine what it would be like for someone to wake up after sleeping for 100 years: it’s always great to find out what happens after the happily ever after.

And now for the giveaway! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. This is open to UK residents only I’m afraid and will finish at the end of September. One winner will be picked from the entries, and they will win one of the books mentioned in this blog post (The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Asking For It, Red Queen, Queen of Shadows, A Wicked Thing) which will be ordered from Amazon, and will arrive nice and quick as my partner has Prime now 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Me and Writing

When I started blogging again, I decided I wanted to make my blog about more than just reviews – while I enjoyed reading and reviewing books, I wasn’t sure it made interesting reading to be posting review after review after review. Part of the new blog has been about pregnancy, which I find interesting as it’s something that is constantly changing. The other thing I wanted to talk about was writing.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was very young and made my own book out of spare bits of paper (it was a collection of short stories, the only one I can vaguely remember was about a candy floss making machine… I was very young). I’ve written bits on and off since then and have dozens of half started stories and ideas dotted around, but I never really committed to anything.

That was until uni, when I had a lecturer who was very complementary about my work, and a summer in Wales on my own with nothing to do. I ended up writing 80,000 words and almost (almost) finishing a whole YA novel. Unfortunately, I stopped when uni started back up. Also, it was kind of terrible… I know there were some good ideas in there somewhere, but lack of planning made it rambly and a bit naff.

But it was a start, and it showed me something a least: if I tried and actually committed to something, I could do it. That was back in 2010 however, and it wasn’t until last year that I really got properly back into the writing. I have my excuses, of course (uni, work, socialising, the usual) but I know I could have made time if I had tried to.

Fast forward to 2014, and I’ve just graduated from my Masters, moved back to my mom’s house and have no job. A good portion of my time was spent job hunting, but that was pretty depressing, so I made myself have a regular writing routine too, working on yet another idea I’d been playing with for years. It felt good to be doing something productive, especially while everyone else in the house was either at work or school.

Luckily, the unemployment lasted less than a month (I have every sympathy with people struggling for work, looking and failing to find a job every day was really soul destroying). Surprisingly for me, I didn’t drop the writing as soon as I was back at work. Instead, I set word targets for the days and deadlines, and gradually, the story began to come together.

I think that’s the real thing that motivates me when writing: no matter how into the story I am, I need some kind of pressure to get me moving. The real push came when I decided to give a first draft to my partner for Christmas. I’d never shared my work before, and I knew he’d appreciate what that meant. It did mean some frantic writing and editing towards the end, but I managed to get it all written and bound ready for December. Even though it wasn’t actually published, it was an incredible feeling to hold my own book in my hands.

Now I’m on the editing stage, which sometimes feels as soul sucking as job hunting, but more on that another day!

Book Review: Are You Still There? (Sarah Lynn Scheerger)

*I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Albert Whitman

Pages: 288

Release Date: September 1st 2015

Summary (From Goodreads):

After her high school is rocked by an anonymous bomb threat, “perfect student” Gabriella Mallory is recruited to work on a secret crisis helpline that may help uncover the would-be bomber’s identity.

Gabriella Mallory, AP student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lockdown. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large. And everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. He leaves threatening notes on campus. He makes threatening calls to the help line. And then he begins targeting Gabi directly. Is it because her father is the lead police detective on the case? Is the bomber one of her new friends. Could it be her new boyfriend with his complicated past? As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him? Or will she be too late?

Review:

This book started off really strong. I was sucked in instantly and almost found myself holding my breath at some points: I hadn’t read the synopsis and didn’t know how the situation was going to turn out.

For me, the beginning and end of the book were really solid, but the middle wobbled a bit. I liked the idea of the help line, and the friendships that developed there were really strong and sweet. There were some moments that were very creepy and others that were quite touching.

However, there were two things that I really didn’t like. One was the relationship between Gabi and Miguel. While it started off okay, it often felt like the focus of the book, and it really didn’t interest me. I wanted more of the bomber mystery and less high school romance. And it did feel very high school-esque: it all got very serious very quick and I just couldn’t believe in it. It might be the old, cynical part of me talking but when they’re saying how they love each other after a long few weeks of dating I can’t help but roll my eyes.

The second thing I didn’t like was the identity of the bomber. I honestly guessed it as soon as that person was in a scene. There were plenty of misleads and red herrings, which I appreciated, but I knew they were fake and who it would turn out to be in the end. The ‘Stranger’s Manifesto’ also read a bit cliche at times.

The end of the book was really emotional and I did love seeing the development of Gabi and her sister’s relationship. While this book wasn’t really for me, there are some great elements and I can see other people really enjoying it.

My Verdict:

3

Finding Out We Were Expecting

I have to say, finding out we were pregnant was a bit of a surprise. Don’t get me wrong – we’re incredibly happy about it, but it wasn’t really something we planned to do this year! We’re still quite young and at the time we were living with my parents, so we weren’t really in the position we’d want to be in.

 

It also came at a pretty busy/stressful time. When I realised I was late, I was spending ta few days in Manchester with a friend, watching Taylor Swift in concert and generally hanging out. I couldn’t really think about anything else at the time though – I was constantly wondering/worrying whether I was or not. At the same time, Nathan was having a job interview in London, for something that we knew could make a big change in our lives. I was worried that finding out I was pregnant would ruin this opportunity for him.

 

When he called to say he had the job, I dropped in that I might be pregnant… I think we both had the same kind of reaction: we wouldn’t worry about it too much until we knew it was real. Which was fine, in theory, but I was also terrified of doing a test – when Nathan offered to get one, I freaked out and insisted we waited. As I’d come off the pill recently, I thought it was just a scare, and things would get back to normal soon.

 

After about a week, we decided to do it. I’d spent a lovely day brunching with friends, we picked up a test on the way home and, again, tried not to worry. I was scared. It seems weird now because I’m so happy about it, but I was terrified, though now I can’t really say what it was I was worried about.

 

I did the test in the bathroom at my mom’s house (very secretly, obviously). I wanted to wait to look at the result with Nathan, but it came up pretty much straight away, so it was a definite positive. We spent the night in a bit of a daze, just getting used to the idea, and gradually becoming less scared. It’s a massive thing to become parents, especially when it wasn’t really planned, but we love each and we’re so happy to be starting a family.

 

I spent the whole first couple of weeks not being able to think about anything else. It felt like I was walking around in a constant dream, and all I could think about was  babybabybaby. Thinking back on it, it was quite nice – I miss being so solely focused on it, but real life has to come back into things at some point I guess!

 

So that’s our ‘finding out’ story. It’s nothing like I ever expected, but I don’t think I would change anything. I’d love to hear other people’s stories, especially ‘surprise’ pregnancy ones!

Book Review: One (Sarah Crossan)

*I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Pages: 448

Release Date: August 27th 2015

 

Summary (From Goodreads):


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…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

Review:

Written in beautiful blank verse, One tells the story of conjoined twins Grace and Tippi as they struggle with going to school for the first time, experiencing love for the first time, and facing a decision that will change everything.

Crossan is a master of words, and the choice of blank verse is perfect for this story. I was a little put off at first as I’ve not read many books like this before, but as soon as I started reading I knew it was the right style.

The subject is handled very sensitively, and it is obvious that the right amount of research has been done. From a reader’s point of view, it’s easy to see Grace and Tippi as two separate people, as we only see the story from Grace’s point of view, but it’s also easy to imagine others treating them as one person. There’s conflicting views here, as they struggle to be accepted as they are, while also wanting to be seen as individuals too.

The twin’s homelife is particularly sad, as they struggle for money and their parent’s relationship begins to disintegrate. It’s interesting to see the story set in America, where health insurance and paying for the twin’s treatment is a real problem and worry for the family, one that the twins sacrifice their privacy to resolve.

The love story for Grace is a complicated one, for obvious reasons, but it is sweet and truthful and you just want her to be happy. I love the friendships they managed to form at school, and even with the reporter they let into their lives. I felt for them every time someone stared or whispered a mean comment: it’s so easy for people on the outside to say things without thinking, but seeing how it could hurt the twins reminded me to always think before I say something (not that I think I would behave badly towards anyone like that, but even the smallest, innocent comments can hurt).

The ending is a sad one as they must choose between staying as they are and attempting life apart. It honestly broke my heart to read and I know I can’t say too much without spoiling it, so I’ll just say brace yourself for tears.

This is a beautiful, heartbreaking story that stays with you long after you’ve read the last page. It’s sensitively written and tells a story from a point of view you don’t often come across, and is one I’ll be recommending to everyone.

 


My Verdict:

4
If you enjoyed this, you may also like Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon