Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom—the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged, because she cannot tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she’s determined to let everyone know it…somehow.
In this breakthrough story—reminiscent of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly—from multiple Coretta Scott King Award-winner Sharon Draper, readers will come to know a brilliant mind and a brave spirit who will change forever how they look at anyone with a disability.
For Ages: 10 and up
I know very little about cerebral palsy, so I can’t say for sure that the author depicted Melody and her disorder appropriately. I can say, however, that this story gave me and my 10-year-old much to think about. Although I never felt pity for Melody, I was angry that she wasn’t always given the same opportunities as other children as a result of her disorder. I felt her frustrations and those of the supportive adults in her life.
The ending of the story is very emotional. I don’t think I could breath again until Melody, in a fit of laughter, says through her Medi-Talker: “I don’t want it! You deserve it!” to the 9th place trophy. I loved that Melody could find humor in the worst of situations throughout the story.
In the “Behind the Book” note, author Sharon M. Draper writes: “It’s also written for people who look away, who pretend they don’t see, or who don’t know what to say when they encounter someone who faces life with obvious differences. Just smile and say hello!” If this is all that readers get out of this book, then I think it did exactly its job.