Sunday, May 9, 2010

Out of My Mind ~ by Sharon M. Draper, 2010

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is about a wheelchair-bound ten-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, who has never been able to walk, or talk, or write.  Because of that, everyone at school, including the teachers, thinks Melody isn't very bright.  In fact, she's brilliant.  She has a photographic memory, and her mind is like a video camera always running, recording everything.  Yet even though she's the smartest kid in her whole school, nobody there knows it because Melody  has been stuck inside her mind all her life -- until now.

She's been going "out of her mind" listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons, over and over every school year.  When she discovers a device that allows her to "speak," a whole world opens up for her -- because she now has a voice.
"You are Spaulding Street Elementary School's own personal Stephen Hawking" (p. 199).
Having a voice does not mean, though, that everyone accepts her.  When she scores high enough to make the academic team, teachers and students alike think somebody cheated.
"You know, it really ought to be you up there instead of Melody," Claire says loud enough for me to hear.

"Well, I'm ready if she messes up," Molly whispers back.

I just shake my head and think, Delete, delete, delete.  No way am I letting their negativity mess me up.  I have enough to worry about.
Maybe it's her making the team for the academic bowl, but something about this book reminds me of The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg (1996), which I reviewed here.  In the earlier book, it's the teacher who is in a wheelchair; in this book, it's a student.  We learn a lot about the difficulty of being unable to do for oneself, because Out of My Mind is written from the point of view of the girl trapped inside a body that won't do what she wants it to do.

I rate this one 9 of 10, an excellent YA book, right up there with The View from Saturday.

P.S.  See that big book bag Donna is holding (on the right side of the photo) in yesterday's post?  There's a copy of this book in it -- a birthday gift I got for her because The View from Saturday is her favorite YA book.  Donna taught View many times when she was a middle-school English teacher.  I hope she also enjoys reading Out of My Mind.


Color Online said...

I have heard about this. Have to look for it. Thanks.

Beth said...

I read this a few years ago, and also liked it, although I thought the bit with the car accident was gilding the lily -- the book didn't need the extra drama.

My elementary school book club has a Book Bingo game running, and the kids contribute ideas for the squares. I'm pretty sure "Book with a fish in it" was inspired by this cover.