It’s very rare, even now, to see books with disabled and chronically ill main characters written by authors with the same experience, so obviously, when it happens, I jump at the chance to read it. And I am so glad I found Lillie Lainoff’s debut novel, “One for All,” because it is an absolute delight.
Everybody in Tania’s town in 1600s France thinks she’s just a “sick girl” with no prospects. Her perpetual dizziness, which started in her youth, is all anyone can ever see in her. But Tania wants to be a fencer, and her dad is training her to do just that. However, when her father is murdered, Tania is whisked away to finishing school. Little does she know this school is actually a training ground for girls to become Musketeers.
Listen. I am a sucker for retellings of classic novels with badass girls at the helm, and “One for All” is exactly that. Granted, I’m not that familiar with “The Three Musketeers,” but I think a good retelling means you don’t have to be familiar with the source material in order to enjoy it. Tania is an amazing main character all on her own, without needing comparison to …
(Pause to Google.)
Charles de Batz de Castelmore d’Artagnan.
God, that’s the main character of “The Three Musketeers?” Did all French people have such long names back then?
Okay, anyway, in my eyes, Tania needs no comparison to d’Artagnan.
Above all, this is a story of a girl finally gaining agency and recognizing her own importance amidst a society that doesn’t want her to do so. She learns how to take action and not hide from society. She might even experience a little romance (which I saw coming from a mile away, but I’m definitely okay with that).
I have not been diagnosed with POTS, or any other chronic illness, so I cannot speak for the accuracy of the portrayal of POTS in this novel, but OwnVoices reviews have had nothing but praise for the representation in this book. But from my viewpoint, Lainoff does a spectacular job at giving Tania a personality and aspirations beyond her chronic illness, the lack of which is a common pitfall of chronically ill and disabled protagonists written by abled authors.
This story is full of incredible action, a touch of mystery and an exploration of the meaning of found family. (The other Musketeers are adorable. Especially the two who have a background F/F enemies-to-lovers storyline.) I could not take my eyes off the page, nor should I have, since I read it the weekend before classes started, when I had nothing better to do with my time.
In conclusion: loved it, please read it, thank you.
“One for All” comes out on March 8, 2022. I received an early copy from the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, in exchange for an honest review.