Lillie Lainoff's debut "One For All" puts disabled girls in the spotlight and lets them shine
I've never read a book like One For All before. Well, I've read books similar to it — as a kid, I read a young reader's version of The Three Musketeers and it gave me the same feelings as Lillie Lainoff's debut did — but what I mean is, I've never read a book that takes a disabled girl, shows her struggling with and sometimes hating her disability, and lets her shine. (These books may exist, I just haven't found them yet.)
In One For All, Tania de Batz is a "sick girl." She suffers from debilitating dizziness that comes on at a moment's notice and as a result of this, she's looked down upon and mocked, often really harmfully and painfully, by the villagers in her hometown. Her one respite is her father, an ex-Musketeer who trains Tania to fence.
And then he's murdered and Tania is shipped off to a finishing school.
Of course, it's not a traditional finishing school, but one that trains girls to be a new type of Musketeer. And Tania meets people who love and accept her. Her new sisters not only don't curl up their lips at her when the dizziness overtakes her; they also don't hesitate to help her when she needs it. They take the extra steps to make her feel welcome.
What I found really incredible about this book was...okay, sorry, I can't say it like that. There were a lot of things that I found really incredible about this book! What was refreshing about the disability representation was that Tania sometimes really despised how her body made her feel. Which, as someone who lives with chronic back pain, I really appreciated. I truly struggle to love my body sometimes because it's so limiting. It's easy to sink into self-loathing and think of myself as less-than others because my body physically cannot keep up.
The other thing that One For All did was it showed that Tania is so much more than her disability. Yes, it gets in the way, but it doesn't keep her from being fierce and determined, from being a good friend and a thoughtful person, from being a good fighter even. In other words, Tania's disability is a part of her but it does not overwhelm all the other parts of her.
Another thing I loved about this book was the supporting cast of characters. I simply adored the other Musketeers, Théa, Portia, and Aria, and even Madame de Treville, who is fierce and imposing and so so caring.
There were some moments where I struggled to keep up with the politics of the world, but I actually really appreciated how intricate they were. I just cannot keep up, lol.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I will wait with bated breath to see what Lillie comes up with next, and I hope it's more adventurous stories featured disabled girls who get to shine — the way they deserve, the way they should, the way they have potential to do.