Cover image for Mind's eye
Mind's eye
Fleischman, Paul.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, 1999.
Physical Description:
108 pages ; 19 cm
A novel in play form in which sixteen-year-old Courtney, paralyzed in an accident, learns about the power of the mind from an elderly blind woman who takes Courtney on an imaginary journey to Italy using a 1910 guidebook.
Reading Level:
NP Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 3.4 2.0 2118.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.5 5 Quiz: 19211 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



Eighty-eight-year old Elva and Courtney, an attractive sixteen-year-old with a severed spinal chord, lie in adjacent beds in a grim Bismarck, North Dakota convalescent home. Ignored by the world, the only resource they have left is their imagination.As Elva and Courtney go on a fantasy trip to Italy (accompanied by Elva's long dead husband and guided by a 1910 travel book), Elva shows Courtney a new way to envision love. But to accept it, and the gift of the imagination, Courtney must make the trip her own - even if she destroys the art Elva holds most dear.Written entirely in dialogue, Mind's Eye can be performed as reader's theater, but it is a fully satisfying novel. In this extraordinarily innovative, profound, and yet readable book Paul Fleischman makes us all feel what a powerful - and dangerous - tool the imagination can be.

Author Notes

Paul Fleischman was born in Monterey, California on September 5, 1952. His father is fellow children's author, Sid Fleischman. He attended the University of California at Berkeley for two years, from 1970 to 1972. He dropped out to go on a cross-country train/bicycle trip and along the way took care of a 200-year-old house in New Hampshire. He eventually earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of New Mexico in 1977.

Fleischman has written over 25 books for children and young adults including award winners such as Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, Newberry Medal in 1989; Graven Images, Newberry Honor; Bull Run, Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction; Breakout, Finalist for the National Book Award in 2003; Saturnalia, Boston Globe-Horn Book Fiction Honor. He has also garnered numerous awards and recognitions from the American Library Association, School Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, and NCTE.

He founded the grammar watchdog groups ColonWatch and The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to English.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8^-12. An 88-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl, unlikely roommates in a convalescent home, form an intense emotional bond in this complex, unusual novel. Told solely through dialogue, the story celebrates the power of imagination and cautions against its abuse. Former teacher Elva draws comfort from life memories and classic literature. Courtney, a teen with a paralyzing spinal cord injury, is depressed and hostile, resenting Elva's positive attitude. To pass time, Elva suggests an imaginary trip through Italy, via a 1910 Baedeker's guide. But the journey takes an unexpected personal turn as the lines between fantasy and reality blur, with both painful and positive repercussions. Although Elva's many reveries and the lengthy travel-book passages get tedious, Fleischman's gift for language and dialogue vividly brings to life the distinctive characters and drama. Readers are offered insight into the generation gap, the many meanings of friendship and love, and the challenges of physical hardships and changing life circumstances. This provocative psychological drama portrays the mind as a powerful tool, capable of inspiring imagination and exposing difficult truths. --Shelle Rosenfeld

Publisher's Weekly Review

Written as a script and set in a convalescent home in present-day North Dakota, this provocative story traces the relationship between 16-year-old Courtney (now a paraplegic), and Elva, her 88-year-old roommate. A former English teacher, Elva peppers her conversation with literary allusions as she doggedly encourages Courtney to transcend her physical limitations. "You'll need to spend hours on your mind, not your hair," Elva says. Fleischman cleverly sets up readers to side first with Courtney, who has all she can do to accept her body's condition, then leads them to switch allegiance to Elva, as the spunky octogenarian uses a 1910 Baedeker's Italy to lure Courtney into joining her on an imaginary grand tour of Italy. What follows is a transformative journey not only through the landscape of turn-of-the-century Italy, but also of the mindÄfraught with detours as Elva reminisces and Courtney rages against her fate. The author anchors the strongest scenes in sumptuous sensory details of the "trip." But several threads are left dangling: a subtheme, in which Courtney gloms onto the legend of Medusa and fantasizes about wrecking several of Italy's masterpieces with her own evil eye, fizzles out; and, more disappointingly, Courtney's grief at Elva's death takes place offstage. Still, as the final curtain falls, the scene is a hopeful one: the mantle has passed from Elva to Courtney, who persuades her new roommate to join in the fantasy excursion. Whether read solo or presented as a play, this novel, like much of Fleischman's (Weslandia) oeuvre, honors the power and life of mind and spirit. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Written almost entirely in dialogue, this novel is set in a contemporary North Dakota nursing home. Sixteen-year-old Courtney, paralyzed from an accident, is placed in a room with two elderly patients: May, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and Elva, who is also bedridden but whose mind is very much active and alive. Elva, a former high school English teacher, immediately tries to befriend Courtney but, still in a state of shock and full of self-pity, the teen wants nothing to do with her new roommate. Gradually, she warms up to Elva, who convinces her that reading will help her unlock her imagination and enable her to escape from the confines of her immobility. Reluctant at first, Courtney becomes drawn into Elva's old travel book. As Courtney reads about Italy, Elva narrates the adventure she imagines having there with her deceased husband. Eventually, Courtney is also drawn in and finds herself traveling through Italy. Her transformation is complete when Elva passes away and she assumes her friend's role, convincing her new roommate to join her in this adventure of the mind. Complicated as this story about the power of words may sound, it is written with astonishing simplicity, and Fleischman proves once again his mastery of dialogue. The relationship between Courtney and Elva is real and poignant. Like Bull Run (1993) and Joyful Noise (1988, both HarperCollins), Mind's Eye is perfectly suited for a reader's theater adaptation, or for a full-scale dramatic production. It is one of those truly distinguished books that offers many rich layers for readers to reflect upon.-Edward Sullivan, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.