One in a Million

One in a Million
Age Range
Release Date
October 10, 2023
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Debut graphic novelist Claire Lordon’s medical misfortunes may be one in a million in this relatable memoir, but so is her determination, grit, and passion to beat the odds and reclaim her life.

Something is wrong with Claire, but she doesn’t know what. Nobody does, not even her doctors. All she wants is to return to her happy and athletic teenage self. But her accumulating symptoms—chronic fatigue, pounding headaches, weight gain—hint that there’s something not right inside Claire’s body. Claire’s high school experience becomes filled with MRIs, visits to the Mayo Clinic, and multiple surgeries to remove a brain tumor. But even in her most difficult moments battling chronic illness, Claire manages to find solace in her family, her closest friends, and her art.A deeply personal and visually arresting memoir that draws on the author’s high school diaries and drawings, One in a Million is also a sophisticated portrayal of pain, depression, and fear that any teen or adult can relate to. With a sensitive preface and an author’s note connecting past to present, this true story of resilience strikes a moving balance between raw honesty in the face of medical and mental trauma and the everyday musings of a teenager.

Editor review

1 review
Living with undiagnosed chronic health problems
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
In this graphic novel style memoir, we see the health problems that Lordon had to deal with in high school. Once an active lacrosse player, she was plagued by a wide range of troublesome symptoms that doctors struggled to diagnose. Among these were extreme fatigue, weight gain, headaches, hair loss, brain fog, and the attendant anxiety and depression. Going to doctor's appointments and for testing made her feel that she was taking too much of her parents' time, and caused her to miss a lot of school. She takes a lot of comfort from her art, although she is irritated when the art teacher doesn't think that she can succeed in an honors class. She didn't let her friends know what was going on, and blamed her absence from the lacrosse team on a fractured ankle that was slow to heal and required surgery. Eventually, she is referred to the Mayo clinic, where they find a tumor on her pituitary gland and recommend surgery. Cushings disease, while rare in people in their teens, is also an issue. The surgery for her tumor is painful and the recuperation drawn out, and the surgery didn't even get all of the tumor, causing her to go back for more. While not actively suicidal, the thoughts were there, and being dead sometimes sounded better than dealing with so many issues and feeling so horrible. Despite all of this, Claire manages to get through high school with academic honors, play lacrosse again, and get into the Rhode Island School of Design. Eventually, the doctors were able to make some progress on treating her disease, and an end note tells us that while she still has health issues, she has managed to run a marathon and is pursuing art as a career.

Good Points
The advanced copy was in black and white, but the finished copy is going to be in two colors. Judging from the cover, I'm guessing that purple will be involved, but I will definitely have to take a look at a finished copy.

Lordon's artwork is simple but expressive, and there is a solid feeling of the 2010s in the style of dress and the interests the characters have. The pages depicting her mental state are dark and chaotic, which really gives the reader a feel for her emotions. I was very glad that her parents had her in therapy to help her process her feelings, and there is an especially good scene where Claire talks to her mother with her therapist, and is reassured that it's not "too much trouble" for her parents to make sure she is okay.

It was good to see some love for lacrosse; I can't say that I've read many books that included that sport, but perhaps there is more interest in it in the author's native Canada than in Ohio!

There are not many books about teens with chronic health conditions, although there are a growing number that deal with mental health. This is a good choice for readers who were interested in Fung's Living with Viola, Wang's Stargazing, and of course, Telgemeier's Guts.
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