Talk about a debut flex! The One for All audiobook—which I was generously given access to via RB Media on NetGalley—is narrated by Mara Wilson. Yes, that Mara Wilson of ‘90s Matilda film fame. Her penchant for drawing in listeners is well put to work in this action-packed novel that features a disabled main character on a path of vengeance.
As you’ve likely assumed from the title, this novel is a Musketeer book—of sorts. One for All chronicles the life of Tania de Batz, daughter of one of the famous Musketeers, as she is sent to a charm school by her father after he can no longer maintain her secret swordplay training. Time in her small town has shown her that people are cruel to people with disabilities—which includes her. As a result, Tania is reluctant to trust in the people she is introduced to at L’Académie des Mariées. This changes after she is told the secret of the school—its reputation as one that garners noble marriages for its pupils is just a cover, and is in fact run in collaboration with the Musketeer academy, training young women how to be battle-ready spies. These are skills that are immediately put to the test once Tania obtains a level of competency. She attends balls with senior students to help her learn who to interact with at court, which Tania hopes will lead her to answers about the fate of her father. What she finds instead is a family of new sisters who swear to have her back, a love interest or two, and more intrigue surrounding the mystery she hopes to unravel about her father than she can possibly handle on her own.
Lillie Lainoff, author of One for All, draws richly from her own experiences to make Tania’s struggles feel personal yet critical of the patriarchal and ableist society of the story. While Tania’s found family does a wonderful job in adjusting different environments in consideration of Tania’s needs, the fact that they must continually do so highlights the erasure of people with disabilities in the social circles they interact with. This is a fine book to look towards for an examination of the strong female lead complex because it displays how a well-attuned community builds each member up where they need it. What use is there in being a strong person on your own? Once you find people who support you for all you are, standing on your own is no longer appealing.