Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.
"Here We Are. And we are living. Isn't that amazing? How we manage to be at all."
Grace and Tippi are sixteen-year-old conjoined twins. Their story is told in free verse, each chapter representing a beautifully wrought miniature work of art that combined, tells an extraordinarily affecting and compelling tale. Joined at the waist, Grace and Tippi have two heads, to hearts, two sets of lungs and four arms. Their way of life has been perilous given the exorbitant costs of medical support and health insurance. These pressures become all the more pronounced as the father of the twins, an alcoholic college professor has lost his job. This necessitates change in the twins lives, including enrolling in mainstream education, rather than being home-schooled, for the first time.
Starting school means they are subject to stares and jibes from other pupils, but it also marks their forming friendship with Jon – who struggles following his mother leaving him – and Yasmeen, who is HIV positive. Grace and Tippi’s health is jeopardised by a bout of flu, which endangers the pair leaving separation as the only option for survival…
Lyrical and elliptical in style, the book is both engaging and highly emotional. It poses a number of questions in the minds of readers – does television coverage help raise awareness and understanding, or does it encourage further disparagement and mawkish ogling, does home-schooling provide the most healthy and safe environment, or is mainstream education important for socialisation, what happens if one twin falls in love or wants to try things that the other does not and of course, what decision is made about separation and what consequences might this have?