hat does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be less than human? Your One and Only presents themes of personal dignity; the value of individual human lives; honoring the body as made by God/nature, etc., while a complementary subtext expresses discontent with many facets of contemporary society: enforced conformity; shouting/shutting down dissenting voices; the devaluing of less-than-perfect fetuses and children; hook-up culture; copycat “creativity;” etc. Adrienne Finlay manages to do all this without preaching or scolding, all while telling a compelling cautionary tale aimed at teens and young adults. (Parental warning: there is a sex scene, but it is vaguely described and certainly much less graphic than what’s found in many “young adult” novels.)
Jack, as the only human (albeit a lab-created one) in a village of clones, is treated as the lab-experiment he is and as a threat. He is not allowed to participate in community life and eventually is condemned to slave labor and inhumane confinement. His only allies, Samuel (the male clone who helped “raise” him) and Althea ( a female clone of Jack’s own age) repeatedly voice their concerns about this treatment, only to be shut down and ultimately viewed as threats themselves. When Althea finds the diary of the human woman who was the “Original” of her clone stock, she realizes how far her village and culture has strayed from what they were intended to be. To save Jack, and (re)claim their own humanity, Samuel and Althea will have to leave their carefully orchestrated lives behind.