Out of My Mind. By Sharon Draper
I am an admitted Sharon Draper fan. I love that this HS English teacher stretched her wings and became a novelist for young people. Sharon Draper offers truth to so many young people through her stories. I’ve just finished her latest book, Out of My Mind. It’s not only an amazing story, but an important story.
Main character Melody is gifted….arguably the smartest kid in the school. She has a photographic memory, can see and taste the colors of music. But, at age eleven, she has never spoken a word, taken a step, or even drawn a smiley face. Melody’s brilliant mind is trapped inside a body dominated by cerebral palsy.
When I first began this book, I had to put it down because I was literally feeling claustrophobic. The thought of all my thoughts being trapped in my mind, unable to get out, as Melody experienced, was so difficult for me that I needed a break from reading her story. However, as Melody grows up and benefits from her parents steadfast love, the cheerleading of a super advocate and education assistant, she is more and more able to participate in her world….where she runs into prejudice from peers, educators, and other adults so strong that Melody has to find new ways to mentally survive. The ups and downs in this story kept me turning pages right to the end to find out if Melody triumphs over what seem like insurmountable hurdles and hurts thrown in her path.
In the end, Draper has created a new hero for me in the character of Melody and a family that fiercely and politely seeks what she needs to live with dignity.
Out of My Mind is a book aimed for middle school audiences. However, I think that anyone in grade four or above would benefit from reading this book. The novel is loaded with ideas for discussion and challenges for all of us to find and befriend the Melodies in our own lives.
Sharon Draper discusses writing this story and her intensely personal motivation for crafting Melody as a spunky, smart eleven year old that wants friends, cool clothes and everything an eleven year old wants on her website: http://sharondraper.com/bookdetail.asp?id=35 . Check it out.
Draper, S. Out of My Mind. (2010). New York: Simon & Schuster. Print.