Forget Me Not
Forget Me Not written by Ellie Terry is a heart-felt middle-grade book about a young girl named Calliope who has Tourette’s Syndrome. The story, which is written from various points of view helps the reader understand the perspectives of Calliope and her friend, Jinsong. When I began this book, I didn’t put it down till it was finished. From the first chapter, I was immediately drawn to Calliope’s character and her journey with Tourette’s Syndrome, which is often misunderstood by others including her own mother and doctor. As a speech-language pathologist, I have worked with many students with Tourette’s Syndrome. With this experience and perspective, I immediately feel drawn to Calliope’s character.
What is Tourette’s Syndrome?
What is Tourette’s Syndrome? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Tourette (too-RET) syndrome is a disorder that involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics) that can’t be easily controlled. For instance, you might repeatedly blink your eyes, shrug your shoulders or blurt out unusual sounds or offensive words. Tics typically show up between ages 2 and 15, with the average being around 6 years of age. Males are about three to four times more likely than females to develop Tourette syndrome.” However, each person who has Tourette’s is different. For example, just because you have Tourette’s syndrome does not mean you will blurt out offensive words all of the time. This book helps readers understand this unique neurological disorder.
About The Story
The story begins as Calliope moves to a new town with her mother. Calliope moves often with her unstable mother, which makes her feel displaced and unsure of how long she will be living in one place. On the first day that she moves, she meets her neighbor, Jinsong, who also is in 7th grade at her new school. Calliope immediately feels connected to Jinsong. Will he be a true friend to her?
Calliope has always felt different because of her tics and “quirks” as her mom would call it. She would hum, tense her arms and yank her hair. Her mother, who doesn’t understand the disorder, takes some extreme measures to help reduce symptoms, which includes cutting Calliope’s beautiful hair at the beginning of the book to reduce the “yanking and pulling”. When Calliope is diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome at a young age, her doctor advises Calliope to hide and control her tics. For someone with Tourette’s, trying to hide these tics makes symptoms even worse.
The story progresses as Calliope navigates her new school, tries to make new friends, and struggles with her Tourette’s Syndrome. However, it’s difficult because she gets bullied and teased, which makes her symptoms even worse. She also feels alone with her mother constantly with a new boyfriend. How will Calliope find true friends and take control of her own life?
I highly recommend this book to all readers, middle grade and up. The story is written in short verse from Calliope’s view and prose in Jinsong’s view. This makes the story even more interesting to read and also makes the points of view even more powerful and connected.
Ellie Terry has been writing poems and stories since she was ten years old. Whether in a notebook while sitting high up in an aspen tree, on her father’s typewriter at the kitchen table, or in one of her many journals while taking bubble baths, she has always loved working with words. Her poetry has won several state awards and has appeared in various magazines for children. In 2014 she was a recipient of the Nikki Grimes Poetic Techniques Merit Scholarship. Her middle-grade debut novel FORGET ME NOT–a story in which a girl attempts to hide her Tourette syndrome while trying to convince her mother not to move them yet again, especially after making friends with the boy next door–was published in 2017 by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. Ellie grew up in small towns in South Dakota, Arizona, and Nevada and currently lives in southern Utah.
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This book helps initiate many topics of discussion with middle-grade readers. Some topics of discussion include friendship, bullying and navigating our differences. Discuss what Calliope does to take control and accept herself and her Tourette’s syndrome as a part of who she is in a powerful way.
To access discussion questions from the author, click here.
To learn more, watch the book trailer below…