Tag Archives: Sarah Crossan

Review: Being Toffee by Sarah Crossan

Being Toffee by Sarah Crossan

Being Toffee
Sarah Crossan
Bloomsbury YA
Published July 14, 2020

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

About Being Toffee

One is trying to forget. The other is trying to remember.

After running away from an abusive home, Allison finds herself taking shelter in a shed behind an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty after all; an elderly woman named Marla, who suffers from dementia, lives there. And rather than turn her away, Marla welcomes her – she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past named Toffee.

Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be, so she decides to play along. But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real companion, Allison begins to waver. They both deserve a home, a safe place, and a family – but at what cost?

My Review

Wow. It’s amazing to me that this novel in poetry hits so hard emotionally in far fewer words than a narrative novel. Like, a good writer always gets you hooked on their characters, right? But this… like, I’d read 100 words and feel my heart breaking, or my blood boiling with anger, or I’d be overwhelmed with the tenderness of the scene.

Like my whole review could be summarized to say: I felt things.

Honestly, this book is such an emotional ride. I loved Allie and Marla both in all their flaws and brokenness. I hated every time someone took advantage of or hurt them.

But I loved how they healed each other in these incremental ways, and how they found ways to be friends around and through the broken places in their lives. I loved that.

The story has some tough content in it, so please read with care. I’ve listed trigger warnings below under violent content. Allie also is befriended by someone who takes advantage of her– not physically or sexually, but emotionally, and that got kind of gross, too, so be aware if that’s something you’re sensitive to.

One the whole, I still feel blown away by this book. I’ve read others by Crossan before, but this one hit me hardest by far.

See my reviews for:

MOONRISE by Sarah Crossan

WE COME APART by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

ONE by Sarah Crossan

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

All characters are Irish. (Takes place in Ireland.)

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used fairly frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content

Violent Content – TRIGGER WARNING
Multiple graphic descriptions of domestic violence and abuse and emotional trauma.

Drug Content
Smoking pot. Drinking alcohol.

Note: I received a free copy of BEING TOFFEE in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog.

Review: Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

Sarah Crossan
Bloomsbury Children’s
Published on May 8, 2018

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Moonrise
‘They think I hurt someone.
But I didn’t. You hear?
Coz people are gonna be telling you
all kinds of lies.
I need you to know the truth.’

As Joe’s older brother nears his execution date, Joe journeys to visit him before the end. He struggles to understand what happened from the night Ed’s accused of murder through the twists and turns in the justice system. Now, barely able to provide for himself, Joe tries his best to support his brother and hold onto the hope that his brother will have justice before he dies.

My Review
Moonrise shines a light on some cracks in the criminal justice system. I feel like cracks isn’t the right word. Holes? Canyons? I’m not sure. Nevertheless, reading a story about someone who seems to have been wrongfully convicted can’t be easy.

Joe’s whole life is a struggle, but his brother Ed was one of the brightest spots in it as he grew up, fatherless, and with a drug-addicted mother. That changes when Ed goes to prison for murder, even though there isn’t much evidence to support the conviction. Now he tries to be a support to his brother in what may be his final days, even though he has no idea what to say or how to say it. Even though he can barely afford to survive on his own in the small Texas town where Ed’s imprisoned.

The story has a lot of grim moments, but it’s not without hope. Joe befriends a young woman who teaches him about forgiveness and love. He meets a Chaplin who challenges him to be strong. His sister and aunt find ways to love one another despite the difficult circumstances they find themselves in.

Did I like the story? For some reason, I find it tough to answer that. It’s an uncomfortable read in some ways. I found I couldn’t read it without examining my own thoughts on issues like the death penalty and police procedures surrounding suspects and pressure to elicit a confession. I think this was the author’s point, so in that way, the story must be a success. Was it a comfortable read? No. Not at all. But there are a lot of books worth reading that aren’t comfortable. I have to call this one of them.

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

Cultural Elements
Major characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used moderately frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
Joe and his brother meet with a Chaplin who brings them comfort.

Violent Content
Joe’s brother has been accused and convicted of shooting a police officer. No descriptions of the officer’s death.

Drug Content
Joe and a girl smoke pot together in one scene. In another, they drink alcohol.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

We Come Apart
Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published June 13, 2017

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About We Come Apart
Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?

For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

My Review
I wanted to read this book after having read One by Sarah Crossan, a novel in verse about conjoined sisters, which I liked. You can check out my review here.

This book was a little darker than One. The descriptions of prejudice against immigrants in England are sharp and raw and made me want to slap some people. I felt for Nicu and the difficult situation he found himself in, caught between his family’s expectations and wanting desperately to fit into his new home. It took a little longer for me to warm up to Jess. I wanted her to be smarter about her friends (who abandoned her and let her take the fall for a shoplifting venture) and I hated that she went along with her stepdad’s cruelty, though I get that she was in a really tough position there, too. She definitely grows as a character through the story. As she begins to recognize the value and goodness in Nicu, I think I felt like there was more to her than my original expectations.

And then there’s the ending. Okay. Wow. Talk about a knife to the heart. I really wanted there to be some shining rainbow of a happy ending, and it just doesn’t go at all the way I hoped. The story definitely makes a point, and Nicu’s heroism remains true to the bitter end, which was, in its own way, so sweet. And so SAD.

Though We Come Apart isn’t as dark or graphic as some of the novels in verse by Ellen Hopkins, I can see it appealing to fans of her books as it contains some similar elements: star-crossed love, social justice issues, and mistaken judgments about others.

Recommended for Ages 13 up.

Cultural Elements
Fifteen-year-old Nicu and his family are immigrants from Romania and face some severe prejudice. Nicu wants to fit in but finds it difficult to understand English language and culture. (The story is set in England.)

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Nicu brings Jess to his house and jokes that his parents will only be upset if they discover the two “making sex.” (They don’t.) Nicu’s parents have come to England to save for a bride for fifteen-year-old Nicu, who does not want to get married. At school, a girl accuses Nicu of touching her rear. At one point, Jess’s stepdad get a bit creepy, inviting her to go swimming with him. It definitely makes her feel like he wants something inappropriate from her, but she finds it hard to express why she feels that way when telling her mom later. One brief kiss between a boy and girl.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Jess and Nicu meet at a community service project after each are separately busted for shoplifting.

Boys bully Nicu in the locker room after gym class. One boy attacks Nicu and he retaliates.

Jess’s stepdad physically and verbally abuses her mom. He makes Jess record videos of her mom doing chores he assigns her and of the times he beats her up. Jess hates it but feels powerless to stop it when her mom won’t defend herself or go to authorities.

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Review and Giveaway: One by Sarah Crossan

One by Sarah Crossan
Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishing
Published: September 15, 2015

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Grace and Tippy, Tippy and Grace.

It’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins, even for Grace and her sister. One pair of legs carries them, their arms looped around on another for support. Born as conjoined twins, they’ve never been apart, and they never wish to be separated. When they’re forced to attend school for the first time after being homeschooled all their lives, Grace and Tippy predict the same ruthless gawking and cruelty from their classmates. Two friends open a doorway to a life far more normal than they ever expected possible. Then their health takes a sharp turn, and the one thing Grace and Tippy have never considered becomes the choice that may save their lives.

Within the sparse, moving poetry that depicts each scene of One, Crossan establishes both Grace and Tippy’s individuality and their unity. I felt the companionship, dependence, and frustration it sometimes caused within the lines. It was easy to imagine the terror that would come from imagining life apart from one another.

Yet this isn’t a story swallowed by what it’s like to live as conjoined twins. The rest of the girls’ lives – relationships with parents and their sister – also fills the pages of the tale. And they don’t have perfect little families and perfect little friends. There are some big issues, which really also helped ground the idea that these girls are no freakshow – they’re like any close sisters might be. They just happen to share more than clothes and hair supplies.

The ending is a little bit predictable, but honestly, I got so wrapped up in the emotions that Grace, our narrator, experiences that I really didn’t care. I needed to walk every page with her to the very end. It is a journey well-worth taking.

Fill out the form below to enter the giveaway for your very own copy of ONE!

Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Sexual Content
Grace recalls with frustration some inappropriate curiosity about her and her sister’s body – “how many vaginas do you have?” A girl and boy kiss.

Spiritual Content
After a terrible disappointment in church, Grace’s family does not participate in any spiritual practices. They remain angry, saying that God would not be welcome at their funerals.


Drug Content
Grace and Tippy drink alcohol with friends (even after their doctor warns them that it poses an extreme health risk to them) and eat a brownie containing marijuana.


About the Author

Sarah Crossan is Irish. She graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Literature before training as an English and Drama teacher at Cambridge University and worked to promote creative writing in schools before leaving teaching to write full time.

She completed her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Warwick in 2003 and in 2010 received an Edward Albee Fellowship for writing.

She spent several years living and teaching high school in New Jersey before moving to London.

Learn more about author Sarah Crossan and One at Once Upon a Twilight where Leydy is hosting a Q&A today!

One Book Giveaway

Enter here to win a free copy of One by Sarah Crossan and share in the joy and mystery of this tale of identity and love. This giveaway is hosted by The Story Sanctuary and Once Upon a Twilight.
a Rafflecopter giveaway