Monday, December 5, 2016


I met Leila recently at the Singapore Writers’ Festival. She was there to introduce another speaker and not really for her own book. But I found her illustrated children’s book ‘All Too Much For Oliver’ on the speaker’s book table, and asked who the writer was.

I was immediately drawn to her book that describes a highly sensitive child who prefers a quiet world without too much stimulation...most of the time.

Young Oliver likes going to the park. He likes playing in the playground. He likes swimming. He likes parties. But only if there aren't too many kids around, if it isn’t too noisy, and if there is one person he likes that could take his attention away from everything else around him.

I can identify with that right away. During almost my entire school life, I hardly joined classmates in crowded tuckshops during recess time but preferred slow walks with just one friend in quieter places further out in the school compound. We would eat only when others were finishing and clearing out of the school canteen. I was used to friends feeling abandoned and asking, ‘Where have you been?’ but it felt weird to tell them that I needed to get away to recharge after four lessons of morning class with them! I didn’t even know how to describe the need for solitude. So I never did. Though I started conversations with others easily, I usually had only one friend at a time and that was totally normal. Any more would simply wear me out. Yet, I’ve thrown more parties than most people I know. I just need enough time alone to reflect, recharge and enjoy company.

So in short, the book means a lot to me. And I felt comfortable enough to ask Leila if she was also a highly-sensitive person (HSP) and she said yes. It was the first time in my life that I could be so open with another human about this without feeling like an anomaly. It was liberating!

I snapped up two copies of the book without a second thought!

Where you can get it: Leila says her book is available at Kinokuniya.