Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Forget Me Not, written by Ellie Terry. Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2017. $23.99 ages 10 and up
the moon from the sky,
swing it around
Is that what it feels like
to have a best friend?
Maybe we'll hang out
every day - "
Isn't it tough enough being a middle grader? You would certainly think so.
For Calliope, you can add that her mother has just come out of another broken relationship which requires another move for the two, that she is the new kid at school, and that she has Tourette's Syndrome. That should do it. Tendency toward self-consciousness is a way of being for kids in seventh grade - just try to imagine how Calliope is feeling.
When she meets Jinsong she begins to feel hopeful. He lives in her apartment building. He goes to the same school, and he seems interested in being her friend. It soon becomes apparent to her classmates that Calliope is 'weird'. As she concerns herself with the many things she has to worry about, her tics become more prevalent and apparent to her classmates. She is soon made the target of jokes and bullying.
“Sometimes my tics
are like gentle whispers,
asking me to do things,
to say things.
But other times they’re like a
Jumping out so loud and strong
I could never hope to
Jinsong is a popular student and good friend. Will his popularity wane if he stands up for his new friend, a girl he finds appealing and attractive? That is certain to be a concern for any young person. If we are truthful, don't we often worry about such things?
"I walk into the boys' locker room and all I hear is:
"The new girl wears old clothes."
"The new girl rolls her eyes."
"The new girl makes creepy sounds in her throat."
It's all true. But somehow it feels wrong to hear them say it."
In honest and clear voices, one written in poetry and the other in prose, the two convey an emotional and uplifting story of fear, friendship and facing difficult times together. Will what they have learned from each other help them face Calli's next move, and keep their friendship strong despite an inevitable separation?
Because the author has Tourette's herself, the reader learns from the inside what it is like to live with the tics, the taunts and the other ways it affects Calliope and her relationships. She opens the door for understanding and meaningful conversation for those who share this story. Bravo!