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One Long Thread

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I had moths in my chest. A thousand of them drumming with their insistent wings, thumping inside my heart. It was the feeling of something struggling to get out, to fly free . . . Love is like that.

When divorce rips Ruby Moon's family apart and tragedy traps her twin, Sally, in a cocoon from which she might never escape, Ruby learns that love is never simple.

A beautiful and engaging tale from an exciting Australian storyteller.

244 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2012

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Belinda Jeffrey

11 books11 followers

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5 stars
14 (15%)
4 stars
35 (39%)
3 stars
28 (31%)
2 stars
10 (11%)
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1 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews943 followers
May 12, 2020
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never read a Young Adult book set in Tonga.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never read a Young Adult book that discusses the production of silk.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never read a Young Adult book where I’ve rooted for a girl to get with a boy in… this situation.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never read a Young Adult book which is so open to discussing (and discussing well) controversial and hard-hitting subjects as this one.

I think this is the thing I love most about Ms Jeffrey’s writing. Everything is absolutely unique. I’ve read a lot of YA fiction and sometimes, just sometimes, they begin to sound the same. But there wasn’t one part of this story where I thought ‘Urgh, I’ve read this book before’.

It’s difficult not to compare this book to Brown Skin Blue  [my review] , which is the prequel to this book. I say prequel but I’m not sure whether you would have to have read it before reading this one. You’ll have to ask Mandee, who did just that. As you know, I love Brown Skin Blue so much. It left me numb, speechless and absolutely smitten that I had found another author that I could add to my ‘Aussie Friends- Send Me Books by This Author Because the UK is Missing Tricks All Over The Place’ list that I sneakily have and use every now and again.
Whereas One Long Thread didn’t have quite the same impact as BSB did, I still absolutely adored it and it was the perfect addition to the story that Ms Jeffrey began.

Ruby Moon was such a delightful character and a wonderful narrator. She’s such a quiet character but very observant and I loved seeing the world through her eyes because even though it was incredibly sad, it was always beautiful. She had such a glorious way of seeing things and she was so normal. I mean, if things were going a bit skew-whiff in your life and you had the option to run away to Tonga, you’d do it, right? Of course you would.

And also, I loved that Ruby had a hobby. Seriously, why don’t more heroines have honest-to-goodness hobbies anymore? I loved hearing all about Ruby’s artistic designs, her passion for…. Sorry, I have to say it… fashion and, mate, I can sympathise with her desire to be surrounded by materials, ribbons, lace, strings of beads and spools of thread. I could quite happily spend the whole afternoon in a haberdashery just wandering in between the valleys of material. Actually, I could quite happily live in a haberdashery.

But what I thought was really special was the mixed feelings Ruby had about her art. I think a lot of people would be able to relate to Ruby’s emotions and how she is reluctant to accept that she’s good, brilliant actually, at something. I mean, haven’t we all, at one point in our life, been self-conscious about our passions? Maybe that’s just me.
“I had a moment of looking at it, like Amona might have, seeing it for the first time and thinking how lovely it was, too. But then I retreated back into myself and could see only its faults.”

Going back to her passion for clothes making- yes, it was linked to a metaphor that ran through this book but it never felt false or convoluted. I know I keep rabbitting on about subtlety but tough, I’m going to go on about it again.
The two books that I’ve read by Ms Jeffrey have both dealt with some of the most harrowing subject matters I have ever read about, but she knows exactly how to portray them with tact and restraint. Sure it’s horrendously sad and I had to back away a few times because of all the emotions, but it wasn’t overdone or sensationalised. It just shows that in the right hands, subjects that would put off a lot of readers can be absolutely stellar.

Have you noticed that I am staying as far away from the plot as I can? I really don’t want to spoil this book for you if you think you’d like it because, and I know I say this all the time, but you should read this book not knowing anything.

And of course, it would be impossible to write a review about a book Ms Jeffrey has written without mentioning her writing.
“I knew I’d never have another moment like this. Just a single place in time where everything had come together to breathe in harmony. Time slowed and I had gathered all her restless strands in my hands; where I had come from, where I was and where I was going was one long thread as I emerged to make my way into the world.”


It’s the connections between the characters that really make this book what it is though. My favourite relationship is the one between Ruby and her dad. Seriously, I loved this guy so much. They watch Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire films and they eat popcorn and drink cold lemonade and then they get dressed up and go to bad Chinese restaurants and tell each other the crappest jokes they can think of. Ahhh. Bliss.

Also, while I’m here I feel I have to talk about Barry again. Because I’m hopelessly in love with him, so what?
“The only living example of a Romeo in the modern world.”

He only had a cameo role (albeit a very important one!) in this book but he really stole the show. I cannot go on enough about how much I love this guy. He is definitely one of my favourite YA characters ever.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that I would read anything that Ms Jeffrey writes.
89 reviews24 followers
June 24, 2012
There are spoilers.

There's a girl.

*And I can't be bothered doing this review.*

This girl has a twin sister.

*I actually want a twin sister.*

And they have parents.

*Wow. Parents.*

These parents argue.

*I'm pretty sure everyone's parents argue.*

They argue over the mum's religion.

*Not much of a religion, more of a cult.*

They divorce.

*I'm getting hungry now.*

Mum takes one twin, dad keeps the other.

*I feel a migraine coming up.*

Ruby, main character, stays with dad. The other, I forgot her name, leaves with mum.

*Need. Food.*

Sometime in the story, the sister, let's just call her 'the other Jeffrey,' runs away from the mother.

*Can't blame her. That mum is ca-raaaaa-zaaaaayyyy.*

The other Jeffrey was actually a wild one, compared to the calm nature of Ruby.

*Sounds like me and my best friend.*

Ruby and dad find out later. The other Jeffrey was pregnant, was in a car accident and died.

*Oh, not to mention BAAAARRRRYYYY!*

Ruby gets upset and goes to Tonga where her grandmother, her mum's mother, Pearl is.

*I was thinking the same thing. Pearl? WTH?*

Then la-di-da happens and KA-BOOOM! She's on a plane back home.

*Mmm, boring indeed.*

Later on...

Meets Barry. Happy with Barry. Loves Barry.

*Don't you just love happy endings? Barf.*

Tsk, tsk. Barry loved 'the other Jeffrey.'
Profile Image for Helen Stower.
120 reviews18 followers
July 29, 2012
They say the three most stressful situations you can face in life are death, divorce and moving house. This contemporary Australian novel is about a family that faces all three.
I loved Brown skin blue, an earlier novel of Belinda Jeffrey’s for its accurate portrayal of characters and evocation of place. Having grown up in North Queensland, I felt the characters could have been people I knew from childhood. For this reason, I was excited to begin reading One Long Thread which does have some connections to the characters from the earlier novel. For me, however, this book didn’t hit the mark quite the same way the first did.
The story is narrated by Ruby Moon, nicknamed Button by her family. When Ruby’s parents’ divorce, her mother moves to Darwin to join a ‘cult-like’ religious group and takes Ruby’s twin Sally. Issues such as the separation of twins, the rejection of a parent, teen friendships, romantic relationships, religious cults and family history and identity are all entwined in the story that unfolds. For me, this was where the book was a little ambitious. There were just too many issues.
Ruby is an amateur fashion student, designer and seamstress and the story of fabric, from moth’s spinning silk thread all the way to a creative design is a motif throughout the book. This gives the book its title – One Long Thread. I really liked the motif and think Belinda Jeffrey has a lovely way of using language to bring this motif to the reader in a way which avoids the obvious & clichéd.
Despite its shortcomings, this book did make me cry. I think that when a book evokes a real emotion from the reader, it has clearly touched them and must be credited for doing so. I will definitely continue to read books written by Belinda Jeffrey.
Profile Image for Sarah.
820 reviews150 followers
Want to read
June 22, 2012
Recommended by both Mandee and Jo, it's got to be good.
Profile Image for Liza.
173 reviews6 followers
April 25, 2016
#19 a book set on an island

I'm not really sure why this novel is classified as a YA novel. Yes the protagonist is 17/18 years old but the tone is nostalgic and the vocabulary does not ring true as that of a teenager. This is the story of three generations of Ruby Moon's family and Jeffrey uses textiles as an important source of imagery of the links between characters - the one long thread of the title.

The central character is a twin and the narrative covers about a year of her life when her parents split up each taking one twin. Ruby remains in Melbourne with her father while her sister moves to Darwin with her mother who has become increasingly religious and ends up living within a strict religious cult. Ruby finds herself cut off from her twin and has to find her place in greatly changed circumstances. She is a gifted seamstress something she shares with her mother and creating garments becomes increasingly important. Her sister is involved in an accident which leads to Ruby turning to her grandmother in Tonga for answers and escape.

Jeffrey has written a reflective novel which covers some interesting areas. At times the analogies with aspects of the textile industry/silk industry are somewhat laboured and repetitive structures made me think I was rereading something I had already read. This is not a book for everyone but a thoughtful reader, particularly one interested in textiles will find it a rewarding read.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Watermelon Daisy.
186 reviews100 followers
August 31, 2012
One Long Thread is a story starting off excellent, but was poorly substituted throughout the rest.

I remember reading through the first two-thirds of the book, knowing this was a definite 4-stars. The main character had a passion for designing clothes (a very unusual hobby in literature these days), the aspect of parents divorcing was pulled off in a realistic way (enough to make me care), and the twin sister Ruby never knew (but is the other half of her).

Beautifully written, I knew this would be a winner. I couldn’t see how the story could possibly go downhill.

Unfortunately, I was far too optimistic.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from being a writer myself, is that you can’t force events to happen simply to teach people things. The last one-third of the book Forced is the nicest word to describe that horrible last bit, where everything’s predictable, happy and it’s as if nothing went wrong in the character’s life.

Come to think of it, I’d probably still give this book a higher rating if the last one-third was ripped out. But unfortunately, I had to watch a beautiful concept waste away.

I do advise to read this book. Just don’t finish it.
Profile Image for Steph.
178 reviews124 followers
July 27, 2015
The publisher's blurb sums this up very succinctly: When divorce rips Ruby Moon's family apart and tragedy traps her twin, Sally, in a cocoon from which she might never escape, Ruby learns that love is never simple. A beautifully written and very much character-driven story. My favourite scenes involved Ruby's grandmother, Pearl, who is my absolute favourite character - she lives in Tonga and makes silk and is very relaxed about everything. The opening chapter of the novel (which I so wish was somewhere on the internet so I could share it with you!) is gorgeously written, and extraordinarily sad. I did find the romance somewhat unnecessary - perhaps there is a rule I'm not aware of that all YA novels must have romance? But the familial relationships are dealt with in a very realistic manner. What this novel lacks in plot it makes up for in wonderful writing. Ruby is endearing and gorgeous, and your heart breaks for her.
Profile Image for Kate Forsyth.
Author 82 books2,307 followers
August 30, 2012
This is a beautiful, moving coming-of-age novel, refreshingly original and beautifully written. It tells the story of Ruby Moon, whose family has been split in half by her parents’ divorce. The mother moves to Darwin to join what can only be described as a cult, and takes Ruby’s twin sister with her. This seems to me so insensitive, so cruel … and, sure enough, the fallout from that decision has tragic consequences. The action of the book moves from Melbourne to Darwin to Tonga – the sections set there are among my favourite in the book. I also loved the use of the silkworm as a recurring motif and symbol. This was the first of Belinda Jeffries’ books that I have read but I will be seeking out more.

Profile Image for Renae.
212 reviews32 followers
July 5, 2014
This book is a 3 1/2 star. I liked the book, but there were alot of times that when I turned the page I had to flick back to check that I hadnt missed pages. But I guess thats due to it being written like someone telling a story, sometimes they do jump abit.
Being a twin can be hard. Ruby and Sally are identical twins...but looks are the only thing that is the same about them. Sally is into boys and dressing up, Ruby is happy to make the clothes and watch her model them...even if it is just in the bedroom when their mother isnt looking.
Tragedy hits Ruby twice, and her struggle through life is completely believable. You feel her reaction of being numb and know that it could all be real...and feel the joy when things happen
Profile Image for Toni.
230 reviews3 followers
October 3, 2015
For someone who doesn't read YA, this is the second for the year.

In my defence, I picked this up in a damaged book sale at the State Library of Queensland and didn't interrogate it much at the time.

I bought it because it was on sale, had a textiles premise and I was in a buying mood.

I enjoyed the first third but it was not as gripping as it went on. When it should have been.

The textile/silk metaphor gets a bit tortured and the metaphor is not the only thing that is laboured. I know we are talking adolescent, here, but it did go over and over the same ground.

The neat tying up of loose ends was not so much satisfying as inevitable and hardly surprising.

It is a quick read and easy read and as a palate cleanser between courses, just fine.
1,099 reviews
November 17, 2012
Ruby Moon is a twin, who is separated from her sister, Sally, when her mother leaves the family to follow a cult religion in Darwin, taking Sally with her. Ruby is an introvert, who pours her passion into her dress designs. Her sister Sally is quite the opposite, sneaking out of the family house to meet boys and have sex. When Sally is fatally injured in a car accident, Ruby has to come to terms with her relationship with her sister, and the changes in the family dynamic, which includes her father's new partner, and her grandmother, Pearl, now living in Tonga and raising silkworms for her silk weaving. A coming of age story, where the character of Ruby is beautifully drawn.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
34 reviews
March 26, 2016
One word....WOW! It is an amazing book, that brings the light on Melbourne, Darwin & surprisingly Tonga. This book got me back into sewing again. It shows the true meaning with divorce, marriage, sisterhood and boys. I would recommend this book to anyone!
Profile Image for Hils.
8 reviews18 followers
April 14, 2016
I think this book was very good and incredibly entertaining. I would recommend this to any one who likes teen fiction or similar genres. This coming of age story was incredibly enthralling. I enjoyed this story a lot.
Profile Image for Kay.
13 reviews
September 24, 2012
Loved this book. The story is interwoven throughout the book and the characters portrayed are realistic. I found myself reviewing my life's journey. I would highly recommend this book.
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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