“Wouldn’t talking about something make it better understood?”Ellie Terry – Forget Me Not
The school I work at had the whole 7th grade reading this book together every other week. We got about 50% of the way through before quarantine happened. The students LOVED the book…mind you, these are kids that HATE reading! I took a copy home and finished it, enjoying it every step of the way (I also needed closure). I wish our kids were able to finish this book because it was something they could all understand and relate to.
Calliope June is a seventh grader that just so happens to have Tourette syndrome. She sometimes makes faces or noises that she doesn’t mean to make, drawing unwanted attention to herself. Calli lives with her mom and they are constantly moving. After the most recent move, Calli decides that she wants to try and hide her TS. It doesn’t take the kids at her new school to realize that Calli isn’t like them. The only person that knows about her TS is her neighbor, Jinsong, who is also the student body president at school. Jinsong sees Calli for who she is, but isn’t always the greatest friend, especially when other classmates are around. With everything going on at school and with her mom always wanted to move for a man, will Calli ever be able to truly grasp who she really is?
- Ellie Terry wrote the book beautifully. Calliope’s perspective was written in verse, where Jinsong’s perspective was written prose. This was a creative way to separate the two characters and really let their personalities shine.
- The thoughts of these two middle schoolers were relatable to what really goes on in middle school, especially for someone that is seen as different.
- Looking at this from a preteen perspective, it was easy to read and understand. The verse vs. prose writing style broke the text up into obtainable chunks that my students really need. It’s not overwhelming, even Jinsong’s chapters are short and sweet.
- I would love to see more authors attempt this style of writing.
- Terry illustrates life with Tourette Syndrome tactfully and truthfully. Calliope had a mild case, but it brought a sense of understanding to those that don’t know what it’s like at all.
- Calliope was a strong female lead that has been through a lot in a little amount of time. The way she handled the situations presented to her were beautifully illustrated in her verse style thoughts. I enjoyed reading her pages and seeing into her mind.
- Jinsong wasn’t my favorite solely based on his actions. He was not a good friend to Calli for good stretches of the text, and I wish he had acted differently. However, it was very true to middle school form, thus making it relatable for that age range. His thoughts weren’t as lyrical as Calliope’s, but again, his were written in prose.
- Calli’s mom is awful. She’s embarrassed by Calli and is constantly uprooting their lives over men. Calli is at a critical age in her life and the lack of stability is really challenging and damaging. I feel for Calli and wish she could have had a more stable mother figure.
- The other minor characters in the book added nice touches to support and move the plot forward. There were some I wanted to shake some sense into, especially the cruel middle school characters, but sadly, they embodied the true personalities of a lot of middle schoolers today!
- Being geared toward pre-teens, the plot is relatable and understandable. If I were to read this from a middle schooler’s perspective, I would completely feel like I could relate to the main characters and to the story line – especially if looking through the lens of the children I teach. Life isn’t all ice-cream and cake; it’s hard and throws a lot of curve balls at you whether you want them or not. I think that teens can read this book and see what it’s like to live with a disability, just as I think adults can read this and see what it’s like to be a 12 or 13 year old.
- Overall, I loved this book and, if I had a pre-teen of my own, I would definitely encourage them to read it! Ellie Terry, as stated above, does a beautiful job telling the bittersweet story of Calliope and Jinsong. The array of emotions that I felt throughout the read were vast, and my heart really felt for Calli. I think it’s important for this given audience to have female characters that overcome turmoil and do what’s best for them, and that’s what Calli does.
If you’ve read this book, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts! Find me at one of the links on the top of this blog and let your thoughts flow!
Buy Forget Me Not on Amazon here OR see if you can find it in your locally owned bookstore or thrift shop! Shop small first!