Inside Out Girl

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Published by: Harper Perennial
Release Date: August 12, 2008
Pages: 317
ISBN13: 978-0061452956

 

Synopsis

Rachel Berman is extra careful about everything. As the overprotective single mother of two, she is acutely aware of the statistical dangers lurking around every corner – which makes her snap decision to aid a stranded motorist wholly uncharacteristic. Leonard Bean is stuck on the shoulder with Olivia, his rodent-obsessed, relentlessly curious, learning disabled ten-year-old daughter. To the chagrin of Rachel’s children, who are loath to be linked to the most mocked girl in school, Rachel and Len begin dating. And it looks like they just might find their own unique version of happily ever after.

But the world refuses to be predictable. When Len receives terrible news, it profoundly alters Rachel’s relationship with a very wild, very special little girl and brings up a dark mystery from the past, giving Rachel a new appreciation for her own children’s unpredictable lives. Only Olivia, an unlikely hero in inside-out pajamas, can bring these mismatched souls together into the most unpredictable thing of all: a family.

Watch Tish discuss Inside Out Girl.

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Praise

"I don't know quite how to describe the story of Rachel Berman — whose family life is rocked by her love for Leonard Bean and his beautiful, bullied, obsessive and mentally disabled daughter — except to say that there is not one single wrong note in this story of crisis and courage. It drives home the truth we ignore to survive: Each of us is a secret, especially to ourselves."
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, NYT bestselling author of The Deep End of The Ocean and Cage of Stars

"Inside Out Girl is a wise, witty gem, populated with characters who will live with each of us long after the last page has been turned. Olivia Bean has taken her place alongside my favorite literary heroes."
—Michael Palmer, NYT bestselling author of The First Patient and The Fifth Vial

"Inside Out Girl had me from the very first page. I was absorbed into the lives of Olivia, Len, and Rachel and closed the book with a sigh of regret when I finished. Each character is richly drawn and the story poignant and tender. Olivia is a memorable character who will stay in my heart for a long, long time."
—Patricia Wood, author of Lottery, shortlisted for the 2008 Orange Prize

"Like its most endearing character, Olivia Bean, Inside Out Girl is brimming with heart, spirit, and most of all, hope. Tish Cohen has written a life-affirming novel about the families we choose, those that are chosen for us, and the possibility of second chances. You'll find yourself cheering for Olivia Bean from the first page to the last."
—Michelle Richmond, NYT bestselling author of The Year of Fog

"A spirited, fast-paced novel, Inside Out Girl is rich in character and heart."
—Marti Leimbach, author of Daniel Isn’t Talking

"In Inside Out Girl, we meet Olivia, a ten-year-old with 'neurological differences.' Compassionate, sweet, and even heroic - you'll be glad you met her."
—John Elder Robison, NYT bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye, My Life with Asperger's


Excerpt

Rachel set her coffee on her rickety nightstand and reached for her morning reading material. Accident reports. These varied from day to day, week to week. Some days she studied accidents by vehicle, other days she looked at accidents by appliance—it had been no small decision to haul a mini-bar up to her bedroom to store cream for her morning coffee. Rachel weighed the risks, but of all 29,964 estimated refrigerator-related accidents in 1998, very few resulted in hospitalization or DOAs. Most victims were treated in Emergency and released. Some might say an accident report over ten years old could hardly be considered accurate, but Rachel was no fool. Recent statistics could only be more ominous.

As the publisher of a not-quite-leading parenting magazine, Rachel felt obligated to stay on top of injury statistics—unintentional injuries being the fifth-leading cause of death in general and the leading cause of death in children between the ages of one and 21.

The exact age group into which my children fall. She froze, nervously clicking her pen. I shouldn’t say fall. Lie. Exactly where my children lie. Janie was 14 and Dustin had just turned 12. She stared at the blank wall across from her bed. That was nearly ten more years of worry.

Before she was three sips into her ritual, Janie thundered into the room, chasing Dustin onto the bed where she tackled him, sending him crashing down onto the mattress and very nearly spiking this year’s statistics.

“Guys! Cut it out,” Rachel said, settling her coffee back onto the nightstand. “Someone’s going to get hurt.”

“It’s mine, you little scab!” Janie hissed, standing up and trying to yank something out of Dustin’s hands.

Lying on his back, tangled in sheets, Dustin held tight. “You think your gigantic troll toes could fit into this tiny sock?” He glanced down at her bare feet and laughed.

Janie whirled around to face Rachel, her long, nearly black hair sticking to her flushed cheeks. A tiny silver stud glinted from the side of her nose. “Did you hear that? He said I have troll feet!”

“Troll toes,” Dustin said. “There’s nothing wrong with troll feet. They’re kinda cute. It’s the troll toes on human feet that really scare the boys.”

“Mom!”

“Dustin,” Rachel said. “Your sister has long human toes, not troll toes.”

“Mom!” Janie’s mouth dropped.

“Sweetheart, long fingers and toes are quite elegant.” Rachel gathered up her reports. “If you tried, you’d probably play the piano beautifully.”

“With your feet!” Laughing, Dustin raised his legs in the air and wiggled his toes.

“Assface!” Janie dove on top of him and they rolled across the bed until the bedside lamp crashed to the floor.

Rachel shot up. “That’s it! I’m warning you. You can get yourselves to Triage by bus!”

Both kids broke into laughter and Janie pushed Dustin off the end of the bed with her feet. “Ugh! I’ve been touched by the toes! I’m melting…” Janie leapt on top of him and they both shrieked as hair was yanked and fists flew. In the fury of flailing body parts, Janie’s knee whacked Dustin in the chin, causing him to bite his tongue.

“Ugh. I’m totally bleeding!”

Rachel inspected his tongue, which had nothing worse than a tiny scrape, and muttered, “Hm. Very superficial.” She glanced at Janie, who was standing over her brother and straightening her nightie. “Janie, get to your room and get ready for school. Now.”

“You’re mad at me?” she squeaked. “He started it!”

“Dustin, you go get ready, too. Just rinse your mouth first so you don’t bleed on the carpet.” They both stood up and stomped from the room, grumbling and elbowing each other.

“And keep your hands to yourselves—” Both doors slammed together. “Or you’ll both get weekend lockdown!”

“Our whole lives are in lockdown! What’s another weekend?” Janie shouted from behind her door.

Rachel picked up her coffee and blew. They’ll thank me when they live to see 21, she thought.

Prevention is always the way to go.