Forget Me Not – Ellie Terry
A girl with Tourette syndrome starts at a new school and tries to hide her quirks in this debut middle-grade novel in verse.
Astronomy-loving Calliope June has Tourette syndrome, so she sometimes makes faces or noises that she doesn’t mean to make. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But it isn’t long before the kids at her new school realize she’s different. Only Calli’s neighbor, who is also the popular student body president, sees her as she truly is—an interesting person and a good friend. But is he brave enough to take their friendship public?
As Calli navigates school, she must also face her mother’s new relationship and the fact that she might be moving, again, just as she starts to make friends and finally accept her differences.
So, novels written in verse are not something I have read a lot of, but I have recently discovered that I quite like them.
Calli is the new kid in school, constantly moving around, and she has a lot of quirks. She has Tourette Syndrome, and tics, but as hard as she tries to cover them up she just can’t. As a result, she is the weird new kid everywhere she goes. As if being a kid isn’t hard enough.
There is so much to unpack in this little book, and a whole host of emotions to be thrown out at you. Her mother seems loving enough, but she is so focused on her love life and appearing normal, that Calli ends up missing out on the attention she should be getting. Her mother also, it seems, really doesn’t understand Calli and her quirks. And it seems like she hasn’t really tried. She uses some extreme measures in order to try the control some of Calli’s tics, but they seem more mean than helpful. Helpful would be talking to the teachers and staff at a new school, not brushing everything under the carpet and acting like that is enough to solve it.
I guess in some ways, this book did make me angry. It is mostly from Calli’s point of view, and seeing the way everyone treats her (including her mother) is a little hard at times. Her mother fails in providing and obtaining basic support for her daughter, which as a mother myself is hard for me to understand. Her mother honestly did not seem to get how hard Calli had to work to be in control of her tics, or how Calli’s body betrayed her over and over again.
The story is split into two POVs: Calli and her new next door neighbour and classmate Jinsong. Her own experiences with Tourette Syndrome, and his viewpoint of it all. It is a raw story that sheds light on a misunderstood syndrome.
Calli is a sweet girl, with a kind nature. She shows a lot of strength and resilience, though my heart broke for her a lot.
I started to read Forget Me Not with my daughter Lottie, though it was a bit much for her. I however really enjoyed it. It was a quick read, because verse, but well worth the time spent.
Book recommendations: I want to read more books written in verse, let me know your faves in the comments!