Friday, September 19, 2008

Book Block: INSIDE OUT GIRL by Tish Cohen

You think I've forgotten about these, don't you? =)

In reality, I was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday, so I took a sick day. And I basically forbid myself to touch the computer and to stay in bed and rest. So now I'm back and here's Thursday's book block!

Written by Tish Cohen

Title: INSIDE OUT GIRL by Tish Cohen
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: August 12, 2008
ISBN: 978-0061452956

Book Block: The inspiration behind INSIDE OUT GIRL

My close friend is a family therapist and once told me her favorite clients are children with an Asperger’s-like condition called non-verbal learning disorder (NLD), because of their loving dispositions—naiveté, and utter inability to connect with other children. These kids might be close-talkers, often knock things over, say the wrong thing, and still got lost on the way to the restroom in an office they’d been coming to for five years. Often they can’t walk up the stairs and talk at the same time, their clothes are inside out and their lack of motor skills means they can’t brush their own teeth. If you tell them to jump in a lake, they probably will. Frustrating, to say the least.

But they will hug you until you weep. They not only wear their hearts on their sleeves, but on a neon sign above their heads. They see nothing wrong with marching straight up to the meanest clique in middle grade or the bully everyone fears and wrapping themselves around them in a full-body hug. And they cannot for the life of them see why they’re rejected.

I had the opportunity to spend time with a 12-year-old, Gillian, with the condition and it wasn’t until meeting with her that I fully understood how completely her life was colored by bullying. She took me down to her family’s basement into a space she calls her “Loft.” It’s a place behind the furnace where she goes when she’s been picked-on. She pointed to a huge glass bottle, about knee high, that contained balled-up Monopoly money and explained that whenever she’s bullied, she takes another bill and crumples it up. Yells at it. Throws it around the furnace room and names it after the bully. After she has stood up to the fictitious tormentor, gained some feeling of power (something she has all too rarely), she stuffs it in her bottle, which she’d had for only three months. It was nearly full of paper bullies. Just imagine your own child going through this.

I thought about what it would mean to have a child with NLD and the joy and pain that would entail. Then I wondered what that parent would do if he had to leave such a child behind in a world that doesn’t understand her and that was really the seed for this story.

Gillian influenced me as a parent almost as much as she influenced the novel. And when I later dedicated Inside Out Girl to her, her mother said she raced to school to show the other kids. She was overwhelmed that someone had been listening. That someone thought her important. That maybe she wasn’t so powerless after all.

Where To Get The Book: Amazon

Tish's Website:

ETA: The small text for the actual book block is because it wasn't sent as plain text and I don't have the time nor the inclination to spend more than 15 minutes trying to make something format correctly in Blogger. Apologies to the author!


Joe Iriarte said...

That's a neat cover. I was intrigued by it.

The story behind the book, though . . . just beautiful.

Pema said...

I've only read this short summary, and my heart goes out to this girl and every kid (and adult!) like her. It hurts to think of what they go through.

Nicole said...

Okay, just that little summary was very moving. Wow. I think I'll have to read your book now. :)

Jenny Rappaport said...

I think it sounds like a beautiful book too. =)

Anonymous said...

Jenny, to help you save some time, the easiest and fastest way to remove formatting is to copy and paste the writing into Notepad or some other plain text editor. That removes the formatting, so you can then just copy what's there in Notepad and paste it directly into your blog. Foreign formatting gone in a matter of seconds. Hope this helps.

And I agree - the book sounds very touching. Congrats to Ms. Cohen.

Tish Cohen said...

Oops, sorry for sending my book block in the wrong format. Clearly I'm a techno-blockhead.

Thanks much for posting this, Jenny. You're a doll. And thanks to Joe, Pema, Nicole, Jenny(again), and BJ for your kind words. NLD is such a poignant condition, and the more it is understood, the easier life will be for the kids and families dealing with it.

Chumplet said...

I love the cover. I have an autistic nephew and I can connect with the need to show others that not all children can fit into the square pegs laid out for them.