Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school—but NO ONE knows it.
Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows. But she can’t. She can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write.
Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.
From the time I was really little - maybe just a few months old - words were like sweet, liquid gifts, and I drank them like lemonade.
Told in the first person from Melody's perspective, OUT OF MY MIND is a story with a fascinating premise. There are many types of Cerebral Palsy, ranging from mild (some physical uncoordination) to severe (quadriplegia). For those that don't know (and I didn't until 8 years ago), Spastic quadriplegia is most severe type of Cerebral Palsy. This is they type of CP that Melody has. She can't walk, she can't talk, she can't feed herself, bathe herself, or ask for help. She is NOT mentally retarded, regardless of the way she looks on the outside. She may not be able to walk, and she might need a bib because she drools, but she's one of the smartest kids in her school.
Above anything else, Melody doesn't want to be ignored. She wants you to talk to her, even though she can't talk back. She wants to let people know what she's thinking, but many of the people around her probably don't even know she has thoughts in her head to begin with. She's trapped. Imagine how terrifying, how frustrating.
There's so much my mother doesn't know.I must have read this line ten times. Let it soak in. Then, a few pages later, I read a scene between Melody and her dad.
"Your life is not going to be easy, little Melody," he'd say quietly. "If I could switch places with you, I'd do it in a heartbeat. You know that, don't you?"
In OUT OF MY MIND, Melody is given a Medi-Talker, a communication device which is an adapted computer that hooks on to the tray of her wheelchair. This of course only comes in after weeks of prescriptions, insurance forms, financial statements, school documents, and medical forms are mailed and re-mailed. (I'm so glad Sharon Draper included this in her book - every. little. thing. these kids need require more forms than a US citizenship!) For the first time in her life, she is able to communicate with her parents, her babysitter, her teachers, and her friends.
OUT OF MY MIND takes a very sensitive topic, and puts wheels on it. The reader won't ever pity Melody - they will get frustrated for her, angry for her, and laugh with her. But they will never, never, pity her. More than anything else, thank you, Sharon Draper, for not making this an unrealistic corny story with a perfect ending.
If nothing else, please walk away from this review with my last thought. If you have someone in your life who has a child with a disability like Cerebral Palsy, or if there is a child in your school with a severe disability, read this book. It may not give you the whole picture of the challenges a family like Melody's faces each and every day, but it will give you an appreciation for the victories that most of us take for granted. Put OUT OF MY MIND in the hands of your children!
What Other Bloggers Said:
Teen Writers Bloc
Sharon Draper website
Simon and Schuster book page
United Cerebral Palsy website
PG Chamber School - make a donation today. This school provides education and therapeutic services to children with special needs.
About the Book:
*Disclosure: I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.