Out of My Mind
By Sharon Draper
Genre: Young Adult
Published 2010, Simon and Schuster
Hardback, 295 pages
Melody has a photographic memory. She remembers everything that has ever happened to her in precise, exact detail—from the words to a song she once heard when she was little to what she ate for a typical mundane breakfast. She also knows thousands and thousands of facts. 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 because she has virtually no way of communicating. Melody has cerebral palsy. All most people see is a special needs kid--never suspecting that trapped inside this eleven-year old girl is more information and insight than they ever imagined.This book was both fascinating and highly emotional for me from beginning to end. I think I cried six separate times throughout the read, and not always because it was something sad. It is so easy to fall into believing the stereotype that just because a person is physically disabled, he or she is also mentally disabled. This book proves the very opposite. Yes, some diseases do affect the mind, but certainly not all of them. Draper proves that with the story of Melody.
Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is until she discovers a computerized talking device that will allow her communicate for the first time ever. A dream come true! At last, she's able to talk, to be in a regular classroom, and have regular conversations! Melody even joins the Whiz Kids Quiz Team—and becomes one of their most valuable members. She’s showing everyone what she is really capable of and surprising even herself with the power of her computerized voice. But, what if people—teachers, classmates, friends—don’t want Melody to succeed? And what if Melody’s new voice isn’t loud enough to be heard over all her difficulties?
From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Melody is learning to communicate with the world…and teaching the world how to communicate with her. If you are brave enough, strong enough, if you can bear to listen, hers is a story you need to hear.
Melody is an amazing character, with both a personality and an intelligence at odds with her physical appearance, and I wonder if there is not an actual person just like Melody in this world, just waiting to be discovered. So many times I wanted to sit down and talk to Melody with the help of her computer and ask her a million questions about life through her eyes.
I love the ingenuity of her neighbor in helping Melody to gain some physical functionality, and the heart and dedication of her parents to defend Melody's rights and provide for all of her needs. I found the different characters to all be unique in their own way, and the obstacles that Melody faced socially are realistic and believable.
I like the parallels that Melody drew between herself and Stephen Hawking, and it makes me wonder what life was like for him as a kid and what obstacles he faced.
Even though this book largely took place within the confines of Melody's thoughts and memories, the difficulties she has daily in dealing with all of the words stifled in her mind became more real and believable this way.
I really can not describe adequately how this book has affected my perspective on the physically-disabled population. All I know for sure is that whoever you are and whatever genres you prefer, you simple must read this book.
The Cover: The visual concept of fish out of water fits very poetically with the theme of the plot, plus the image actually occurs in the story.
First Lines: "Words. I'm surrounded by thousands of words. Maybe millions."
This is very intriguing opening to the book, especially for a word-lover like myself!
Favorite Quote: "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."