Smart and unflinching, this #OwnVoices debut contemporary novel stars an ambitious college student who refuses to be defined by her central auditory processing disorder.
Edie Kits has a learning disability. Well, not a learning disability exactly, but a disability that impacts her learning. It isn't visible, it isn't obvious, and it isn't something she likes to advertise.
And for three semesters of college, her hard work and perseverance have carried her through. Edie thinks she has her disability under control until she meets her match with a French 102 course and a professor unwilling to help her out.
Edie finds herself caught between getting the help she needs and convincing her professor that she isn't looking for an easy out. Luckily for Edie, she has an amazing best friend, Serena, who is willing to stitch together a plan to ensure Edie's success. And then there's Hudson, the badly dressed but undoubtedly adorable TA in her French class who finds himself pulled into her orbit...
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Meet Me in Outer Space is a sweet, heartachingly real story of love and college life by debut author Melinda Grace.
Praise for Meet Me in Outer Space from the Swoon Reads community:
"Edie’s resolve not to give up her lifelong dream for a guy is heartening ... This #ownvoices debut tackles the stigma of a hidden disability." Booklist
"A sweet college romance that features a disability experience not often represented in teen fiction." School Library Journal
“I can relate to Edie. I don't have CAPD but I have ADHD and that makes everything study related/ everyday functioning super hard. Reading on because this hit so close home.” Tara Olivia, reader on SwoonReads.com
|Publisher:||Feiwel & Friends|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 2.10(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Melinda Grace wrote her first piece of fiction in middle school, but didn't write a complete story until an introduction to creative writing course at State University of New York at Oswego, where she earned a BA in human development. She went on to earn a MS Ed in counseling from Alfred University and currently works as an elementary school counselor. She loves sunshine, ice cream sandwiches, and anything Disney. Her debut novel Meet Me in Outer Space is an #OwnVoices story.
Read an Excerpt
A Constant State of Huh?
"You never took a boring Cambridge in pie school?" Dr. Galloway, my academic adviser, asked. His head inclined to the left, his fingertips pressed into the oversized metal desk that separated us in his small, muggy, windowless office.
I stared at him. Took a boring Cambridge in pie school. That's what I'd just heard.
The cell phone that sat faceup on his desk illuminated as it vibrated.
Think, Edie, think.
He looked down at it, swiping the call away.
I should have been watching him and not focusing on the fake gold buttons on his navy blazer.
"I'm — I'm sorry, what?" I stuttered. It wasn't happening; I wasn't going to figure that one out on my own, and I didn't know him well enough to guess. Between the hum of the halogen lights, the fan in his ancient desktop computer, and the faint sound of music in the distance, I was doomed.
His cell vibrated again. "I said: You never took a foreign language in high school?" He swiped the call before running his fingers across his keyboard to wake up his computer.
Foreign language. Not boring Cambridge. Pie school? God, Edie. Get it together.
"No, I didn't have to," I said.
He flipped through my paper-thin file that sat among about a million others. "What do you mean you didn't have to?" He stopped momentarily on a nearly blank page before looking up at me for an answer.
This time I watched his mouth as he spoke. He shifted in his seat, his fingers instinctively traveling to his face to scratch his nose. Wipe his mouth. This was what happened when I watched people's faces while they spoke. They got unnerved. They fidgeted. They tried to wipe away a nonexistent booger.
I looked down at my hands, knowing that this was it. "I was exempt."
"As in, you didn't have to take it?" he asked.
"Correct," I breathed.
He squinted at my folder. "Then how did you get through French 101?"
"Pure luck, if I'm being honest," I said, immediately regretting it. He was going to think I didn't pay attention in class and that was why I was failing. He was going to think I was just like all the other millennials he advised, complaining about their classes being too hard. He was going to think I didn't care enough to listen.
"I have a central auditory processing disorder ...," I said, trying to explain. I watched his squinty brown eyes search my burning face as he tried to process my words. I recognized that look. I was in a constant state of that look. "And I got through French 101 because I had to."
That wasn't entirely true. I wanted to get through French. I needed to. The thought of spending the next summer in Paris without having learned any French gave me undue anxiety.
"So, if you can't hear the professor," he said a little louder, "I'd suggest you try sitting in the front of the room." His thin lips exaggerated each word as he nodded patronizingly, though probably not on purpose. Hopefully not on purpose.
When people heard the word auditory they immediately thought hearing. It was just the connection people made. So, people would start to talk really loud and really slow. The slow part was helpful, if I was being honest, but it made me feel like an idiot. Also, if I had a nickel for every time someone told me to just move to the front of the room. Or study harder. Or pay closer attention.
He closed my folder and set it back onto the stack. He ran a hand down one side of his face, slumping in his chair as his eyes scanned his computer screen.
"No, I can hear just fine," I said, keeping the volume of my voice the same in hopes that he would as well. "It's just that the class is very difficult for me and —"
"I'm not sure I can help you, Edie. It's too late in the semester to drop the course." He leaned back in his chair. "You finished your freshman year with a three point seven GPA. You passed French 101 with a —" He went for the folder again.
"C minus," I said, closing my eyes briefly.
"Honestly, Edie, from where I'm sitting it doesn't look like you're in need of that much help."
A knock on the door behind me pulled my attention briefly. Dr. Galloway put up a finger to the person whose whole face was shoved into the small rectangular window in the door.
"Can you please just point me in the right direction?" I said, my voice clipped. "Is there a ... I don't know, disabilities services office or something?"
A look I knew all too well spread across his face. "You have a disability?" he asked, reaching for a stack of papers that sat in a hanging wall file. "We have a procedure for this, just ... um ..." He shuffled his papers.
He handed me a one-sided paper with the words Students with Disabilities at the top. "You should have just told me that from the start. Easy," he said.
I scanned the paper. A bulleted list of how-tos when it came to advising students with disabilities. I looked between Dr. Galloway and the paper. A smile crept across his face as he folded his arms over his chest. Clearly, he thought he'd just solved all my problems. I hoped he wasn't expecting a thank-you.
"With all due respect," I said slowly, my eyes on his cell phone as it vibrated again. "I didn't have to tell you any of this. I'm asking for assistance like any other student. This paper is not exactly what I was looking for." I ran a hand through my long almond-colored hair, wishing I had put it up. Sweat brewed on my neck, the backs of my knees, my hands.
"Well," he said, sitting up to lean his elbows onto the desk. "Like I said before, I'm not sure how I can help. I mean, if this isn't what you're looking for, then I don't know, maybe you just need to study harder or get a tutor or something. Pay better attention in class."
I forced a smile as I stood and hiked my tote onto my shoulder. He simply didn't understand, and he wasn't going to. "Okay — sure. Yes. A tutor. Pay attention. Front of the room. I'll do that." This conversation was over, and I was leaving. I should have known better. I should have just emailed him, or gone to one of my other professors. I should —
"Miss Kits," he called.
I looked over my shoulder, one hand on the doorknob while the other clutched the paper he'd given me. I watched his mouth as I waited for him to speak. Now that I was standing I could add talking in the hallway to all the sounds looking to distract me.
"Maybe you could ask the professor if you could record his lectures?" He grimaced slightly. He may not have understood my disability, but he absolutely understood a fed-up female. "Not all professors will allow it, so don't be too surprised if he says no, but the least you can do is ask. Also, if you go to the academic services center in the back of the library, you can ask for what's called copied notes, which means that someone in your class or another section of the same course will take notes and you get a copy — but don't worry, it's completely anonymous."
I took a deep breath. That was all I was looking for. Direction and options.
It wasn't worth telling him that I already recorded most of my classes with a talk-to-text program and that Dr. Clément, the French professor in question, had expressly addressed his objections to students recording his lectures on the first day of 101.
I looked at my watch. "I'm going to head over to his office hours now." I nodded as I opened the door. "Thank you."
"I'll shoot him an email and let him know we spoke," he said, his fingers already typing away on the keyboard. "This way you don't have to run through this whole conversation again."
"Thanks," I said, lightly kicking the toe of my shoe into the floor. "I really appreciate that."
"You're welcome." He hit a button with a flourish. "I'm sorry I couldn't be more helpful, I just —" His cell phone vibrated again.
I put my hand up, waving him on to answer the phone. I didn't have time to wait around for any further conversation anyway, and it seemed like he didn't have the time, either.
I turned back to the door, where the impatient student from before stood in the doorway with his hands on his hips. I huffed at him as he sidestepped, allowing me to pass.
"Oh, Miss Kits —" Dr. Galloway called, pulling the cell away from his face. "Don't initiate the cat."
Don't initiate the cat? What in the world? You know what, forget it. Not even going to ask.
"Okay, thanks," I called over my shoulder.CHAPTER 2
And the Award for The Cutest Blank Stare Goes to ...
I hesitated outside Dr. Clément's office; the door was open and two voices floated into the hallway. There weren't supposed to be two voices. I wasn't prepared for two voices.
With a deep breath, I took three steps toward the door, but instead of turning into the office, I panicked, swiftly passing the office and dashing down the hall.
I stopped when I reached the end of the hallway, a door leading to the campus center in front of me and my back to Dr. Clément's office. What was I doing? I looked at my watch. I only had a few more minutes before his office hours were over.
I needed to get in there.
I turned back toward Dr. Clément's office, fingers pressed to my forehead as I mumbled words of encouragement to myself, except the hallway was no longer empty.
"Did you need something, Edie?" It was Dr. Clément's teaching assistant, Hudson. Voice number two. The one I wasn't prepared for.
"I ... uh, yeah. Um, Dr. Galloway, my adviser, just emailed ..." I motioned toward the doorway in which he stood. "I just need to talk to him."
Hudson smiled, small at first, and then it grew.
I looked at the floor, my face already heating up. He was wearing the maroon beanie that made my insides squirm. He was disheveled in all the best ways. Slightly wrinkled sweater, jeans with holes in the knees. Hands shoved into his pockets.
I'd noticed Hudson the first day of class. It would have been impossible not to notice him. He'd been in camo-printed cargo shorts and a black T- shirt with the words I SPEAK FRENCH FRIES written across the chest in white script. He'd been wearing flip-flops, too, and I remember thinking that he was a hopeless case, fashionwise. Hopeless, but somehow completely adorable. Beautifully disheveled, like the perfect messy bun.
"Well, come on. If you aren't in here in the next two minutes, he will leave without you."
Dr. Clément stared at Hudson and me as we shifted from the hall into the office, shuffling around the piles of books on the floor to get to the two mismatched chairs that sat across from him.
"So," I started, my eyes moving from Clément to Hudson and then back. "My adviser sent you an email; did you —"
"You cannot record my class," Dr. Clément interrupted, his accent thick. "It is not up for debate."
I hesitated, wondering exactly what Galloway had put in the email. "Is there any particular reason why I can't?" I attempted to keep my voice even, avoiding eye contact with the TA. This was stressful enough on its own, but his dark-blue-and-pale-gray eyes, a Pantone-like combination any designer would kill to own, and the way he casually wore that maroon beanie weren't helping me stay focused. The last thing I needed was to have to ask Dr. Clément to repeat himself.
English was my first language, and that was difficult enough, but throw an accent into the mix and I was lost. Watching Dr. Clément's mouth wasn't helping, and I didn't know if the talk-to-text program would even work with French, but it was something and I had to at least try.
"Because I do not want you to." He shrugged, looking to Hudson for backup.
I looked to Hudson, too, feeling like Clément and I were silently fighting over him. Battling for his allegiance. Hudson looked from me to Clément and then back with a small shrug. His eyes lighting up as he scrunched his nose.
"Listen." I ran a hand through my hair in frustration, wishing again that I had tied it back. Between the light snowfall and my constant touching, my hair would be a frizzy mess by the end of the day. Clément's office may have been bigger than Galloway's, but it wasn't any less stuffy.
"I have a disability that makes it hard for me to process what I hear. Your accent makes that even harder for me," I said as I wiggled my fingers near my left ear. "Either I don't understand a word of what you're saying or everything just comes out in a garbled mess, and that's when you speak English. When you speak French, I'm so lost I just ..." I shook my head; he didn't need to know how helpless I felt. "My adviser thinks recording the class would help since learning a second language is especially hard for someone with what I have. Sometimes I just don't understand you, and I don't know how else to help myself." I knew at some point there would come a time when I might have to let someone at the college know I had a disability, but I didn't want it to be now and I didn't want it to be like this.
"That is not my concern," he said with a one-shoulder shrug. "If you cannot handle college, then you should not be in college. You made it through my 101 course; I have no doubt you will make it through my 102 course."
My eyes darted to Hudson's, and his were already on me, wide in disbelief. How did we go from you shouldn't be in college if you can't handle it to don't worry, you'll make it through? It wasn't about just making it through for me. There was more at stake.
"I can handle college. Not everyone is good at everything. This is what I'm not good at —" I squeezed my eyes closed tightly as I pressed my fingers into my forehead. "All I'm asking is that you let me help myself. You don't have to do anything differently. I just want to record your lessons, that's all. I spent more time and effort on French 101 than I did on any of my other courses, and that was just studying the vocab and putting all my energy into paying attention in class."
There was always a fine line with things like this for me: caught between getting what I needed and getting an unfair advantage over the other students, even if 99 percent of the time it was only a perceived advantage.
"Yes, but the things I say —" Dr. Clément waved his hand around airily, as if holding a cigarette between two fingers. I waited for him to continue, but he didn't. Apparently, the hand gesture was the rest of the sentence.
"Well, forgive me if I have to take this to your department head." I pushed out of my chair, crossing my arms in hopes that the small threat would change his mind. Also, hoping he couldn't see my hands shaking.
"Do as you must, mademoiselle. Perhaps while you are there you should consider another language. Spanish maybe?"
I let out a noise somewhere between a growl of frustration and a sigh of hopelessness. I needed French. I was a fashion merchandise major, dammit, I needed French! Haute couture. Christian Dior. A.P.C. Longchamp. Louis Vuitton! If I stood any chance of having a productive time in Paris before my Global Trades course, I needed to learn at least something from this class.
I wasn't foolish enough to believe I would learn the entirety of the French language, but I also knew myself, and I knew that if I wasn't at least exposed to the language — the sounds, the vocab, the cadence of speech — I wouldn't stand a chance conversing in English with a French accent, let alone piecing together actual French.
"You come up with another plan, and then we will talk," he said.
"What other plan? This is a perfectly good plan!" I threw my hands into the air. I wanted to stomp my foot, but that wouldn't go over too well unless I wanted to prove that I couldn't handle college.
Dr. Clément assessed me for a moment; his eyebrows knitted together as he scanned me from top to bottom. I tugged at my navy and floral-print skirt. Adjusted my pink leather bomber jacket as I watched him watch me. My attention catching on the silver and blue fleurs-de-lis tie clip askew on his eggplant-and-taupe-checkered tie.
"Pensez-y, mademoiselle, et revenez quand vous aurez trouvéune autre idée," Dr. Clément said, his eyes trained on my face, watching my reaction. And of course, I wasn't ready. Of course, he caught me off guard.
I shook my head as I looked between Dr. Clément and Hudson. I could not believe this was happening. How could a professor be so unwilling to help a student? I wasn't asking for too much, was I?
Hudson looked like he wanted to say something. His eyes had softened, and more than once I'd seen him open his mouth to speak.
I searched his eyes, hoping for something, anything to help me stay afloat. But he said nothing, and I had no words, either, so I turned on my heels and walked out. I needed to be as far away from Clément, Hudson, and that conversation as possible.
This was the story of my life. Always having to beg for what I needed. I hated needing extra help and time and resources, hated being put on the defense all the time. I tried so hard to give people the benefit of the doubt, give them a chance to do the right thing. I wanted to believe that Clément would understand once I explained myself. That the email from Dr. Galloway would have meant something.
I stiffened at the sound of my name.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Meet Me In Outer Space"
Copyright © 2019 Melinda Grace.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. A Constant State of Huh?,
2. And the Award for The Cutest Blank Stare Goes to ...,
3. I'm Cheering for Pizza,
4. How About the 5th of Never?,
5. Roger That, Over and Out,
6. Pennies in a Pint Glass, Actually,
7. Merci Beaucoup, Cookie Monster,
8. Just Because You Can Wear Them Doesn't Mean You Should,
9. Gorgeous & Alone Seeking: No One. She Wants To Be Alone.,
10. You Can't Just Go Around Googling Everyone,
11. This Is Not a Riddle,
12. Three Words: High Fashion Lingerie,
13. Your Enthusiasm Is Showing,
14. We'll Always Have Paris,
15. Beer Pong? Beer Pong.,
16. Monsieur, S'il Vous Plaît,
17. Eleven Sewing Machines Sewing,
18. Super Awkward, or Just, Like, Normal Awkward?,
19. Do You Like Me? Circle Yes or No.,
20. That Hoodie Life,
21. The Many Talents of Wesley H.,
22. It's Called Science, Duh,
23. Sometimes I Just Like to Smile at My Notebook, NBD,
24. It's How I Know You're ... Uh ... Awesome,
25. That's What We Call a Win-Win-Win-Win Situation,
26. Who Are You and What Have You Done with Hudson?,
27. A Kiss, to Kiss, We Are Kissing,
28. A Picture Says a Thousand Uh-Ohs,
29. This Misery Does Not Love Your Company, FYI,
30. It Matters How This Ends,
31. D Stands for Done,
32. Angel Wings,
33. And the Stars Look Very Different Today,
About the Author,