TITLE: One For All
AUTHOR: Lillie Lainoff
PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends
RELEASE DATE: March 8, 2022
GENRES: Young Adult Historical Fantasy
An OwnVoices, gender-bent retelling of The Three Musketeers, in which a girl with a chronic illness trains as a Musketeer and uncovers secrets, sisterhood, and self-love.
Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone in town thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”; even her mother is desperate to marry her off for security. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father—a former Musketeer and her greatest champion.
Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for a new kind of Musketeer: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a swordfight.
With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels for the first time like she has a purpose, like she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her first target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming, and breathlessly attractive—and he might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to lean on her friends, listen to her own body, and decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.
This debut novel is a fierce, whirlwind adventure about the depth of found family, the strength that goes beyond the body, and the determination it takes to fight for what you love.
Lillie Lainoff received her B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing and distinction within the major from Yale University. She currently is studying for her MA in Creative Writing Prose Fiction at the University of East Anglia.
Her fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has been featured in The LA Review, The Washington Post Outlook, Today’s Parent, via the Disability Visibility Project, Washington City Paper, and The Yale Daily News, amongst other places. She’s received recognition from Glimmer Train and The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and is the 2019 Winner of the LA Review Literary Award for Short Fiction. She was a featured Rooted in Rights disability activist, and is the founder of Disabled Kidlit Writers (FB).
As an undergraduate, Lillie was a member of Yale’s Varsity Fencing team. As a senior, she was one of the first physically disabled athletes to individually qualify for any NCAA Championship event, and helped her team to an end-of-season 10th place ranking by the National Coaches Poll. She still fences competitively and coaches. In 2017, she was named a recipient of the inaugural Spirit of Sport award by the US Fencing Association.
I loved this book. I mean, I went into it knowing I would because, genderbent Musketeers? Everything I ever wanted. And I did love it for that, but mostly for Tania. She is such a great MC, not least of which because she lives with debilitating chronic illness AND IS ALSO a great fencer and a Musketeer.
This book does an absolutely amazing job driving home the point that yes, you can be disabled AND competent — AND that competence does not make you any less disabled. This is maybe the only book I’ve read that makes such a clear point of this. Disability does not equal incompetence. Competence does not equal a lack of disability. They can both be true.
Tania’s illness is never far from her. She never takes a breath free of the dizziness, and we never lose sight of her struggles or her determination. Her illness is threaded through every scene, every moment of the story — but it does not define the story, and it does not define her. It does not truly limit her, not in any way that matters or that she and her sisters in arms cannot find a way to overcome.
Aside from that, I love the way Tania and her sisters in arms grow closer and come to trust and rely on one another. I love that they are trained and trusted to go on missions to protect the king, even if they are denied official entry into the Musketeers. I love that they use every means at their disposal to complete their missions — and are also relatable teen girls.
Another thing I absolutely love is that the four girls’ names are clearly related to the original Three Musketeers (and D’artagnan), and that they also share some of the same personality traits as their namesakes. It’s such a clever and subtle nod to the original.
I love how Tania’s father steadfastly believes in her and teaches her to fence despite her mother’s worries and despite her illness. And that his lessons give her tools to combat the dizziness she feels.
I also love the musing about others like her, reduced to begging and being disbelieved. About how there are so many words for disbelief that a girl can be having the physical symptoms she complains of. About how it’s the poor who suffer during a regime change. This book has a lot of really powerful passages that hit hard and don’t shy away from ugly truths. And yet it still manages to be fun and empowering.
Empowering is actually a great word to describe how I feel about this book. As someone with chronic illnesses myself, I really deeply felt Tania’s frustrations and rage at being disbelieved, mocked, treated like a delicate object, not seen. Her journey is uplifting and empowering and I am so glad that I read it. And even more, I’m so glad Lillie Lainoff wrote it, that it will be available to future “sick girls” who secretly yearn to be Musketeers and save themselves for a change.
I also had the chance to listen to the audio arc and I have to say that I wish the narrator had done more justice to this story. She spoke at a reasonable speed but left long pauses between sentences sometimes — maybe between paragraphs? — which made it difficult to pay attention no matter what speed I tried. She also didn’t really distinguish very much between character voices which made it difficult to follow different speakers. She also had a little bit of a monotone quality to her performance which meant my mind tended to wander while listening.
*Thanks to NetGalley, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Recorded Books, Colored Pages Blog Tours, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing an e-arc and audio arc for review.