Grace and Tipi are twins. Nothing extraordinary about that, but they are, in fact, conjoined twins and though their upper bodies are separate, they share a lower body. For the reader – and indeed, the community among which they move – this is difficult to comprehend. For Tipi and Grace it is their life. Then comes devastating news requiring a difficult and dangerous solution.
The success of this book is not just that Sarah Crossan once again uses a blank verse form for the narrative, but that Tipi and Grace are such distinct characters. They may be twins, but they are very different from each other. It is Grace we get to know best because the story is told by Grace, but feisty Tipi is never far away (literally and metaphorically). This could have been mawkish but Crossan never allows her characters to wallow in self-pity. She has clearly researched the scenario extensively, but again there is no sense of this being ‘a case study’. The verse form she employs ensures that there can be no unnecessary verbiage; description is immediate and pertinent.
Writing such a book is a brave move. The subject of conjoined twins is alien and could smack of voyeurism. What Crossan shows very clearly, however, is that these girls – as others in similar predicaments – are real people with hopes, fears, wishes and ambitions. She does this with great skill. Though one might suggest an 14+ readership, this could be recommended to mature younger KS3 readers. Highly recommended.