I have just finished reading the Carnegie Medal shortlisted novel One by Sarah Crossan and loved it. It’s the author’s second novel written as a prose poem, or free verse, the first being The weight of water which I also enjoyed but is very different from her latest novel. Both were beautifully written and equally heart-wrenching, but covering very different stories. One was clearly very well-researched on all points from the nature of the particular disability borne by the conjoined twins, and their feelings for one another, their difficulties where they, as teenage girls display typical teenage types of behaviour, and how they blow apart the idea that they should be pitied, or considered to be suffering. The writing quickly draws the reader in and s/he becomes emotionally involved.
The prose poem is easy to read and get into. The effect of the layout of words on the page, appearing as a poem, make it a fast read, which, sometimes, is a shame, because the reader wants to savour the poetic feel and read it slowly. Here, however, there is a sense of urgency carried along by the story: time is of the essence. The twins suffer health complications which must be addressed. They are attractive characters and the reader soon has a sense of the lovely connection between them, which is often reported to be the case between twins generally, let alone those so closely attached. Despite sometimes wanting to enjoy the same things as every teenage girl, they have a deep understanding and acceptance of the fact that they can’t participate in life in that way. They watch their younger sister Dragon do the things that she does, whose own story is explored to some extent by the narrator, right-hand sided Grace. She is also the teller of her parents’ story.
In keeping with the style of the prose poem, the detail is spares but so expertly described that all that is important is revealed – the story is told more effectively in this way, and is executed skilfully.
This is a sad story, a difficult story but also, at times, a joyful story. Heartbreaking, yet hopeful. I wish Ms Crossan all the very best with the Carnegie Medal, she has rightly been rewarded with the YA Prize 2016 and the CBI Book of the Year Award!