Out of My Mind
  • Out of My Mind
  • Out of My Mind

Out of My Mind

4.8 1282
by Sharon M. Draper
     
 

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From award-winning author Sharon Draper comes Out of My Mind, the story of a brilliant girl who cannot speak or write.

“If there is one book teens and parents (and everyone else) should read this year, Out of My Mind should be it” (Denver Post).

Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she

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Overview

From award-winning author Sharon Draper comes Out of My Mind, the story of a brilliant girl who cannot speak or write.

“If there is one book teens and parents (and everyone else) should read this year, Out of My Mind should be it” (Denver Post).

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Eleven-year-old Melody Brooks has a photographic memory, synesthesia, and cerebral palsy. She can’t speak or feed herself, and her motor skills are limited to whatever her thumbs can manage. The neighbor woman who takes care of Melody while her parents work is determined that Melody will learn as much as possible, and she works tirelessly to expand the girl’s vocabulary. Eventually, with the help of a communication device, Melody manages to show her teachers and classmates just how much she knows. The premise of Melody’s cognitive skills being trapped in a minimally functioning body recalls Trueman’s Stuck in Neutral (BCCB 6/00), and the theme retains its fascination; Draper’s smooth style enhances the story, and there’s a romantic element to the notion that Melody isn’t simply capable but actually gifted. The drama is overplayed, though, with Melody’s abilities implausibly superlative. Melody’s school experiences are somewhat anachronistic, and her classmates are little more than a collection of clichés, from the special needs kids who are unfailingly kind and noble to the normal kids who are outspokenly rude. Draper is a master of melodrama, though, and Melody’s story certainly doesn’t lack that; she may not be a particularly believable character, but she’s an interesting one, and her plight will do its work of making students think twice about their classmates, acquaintances, and siblings with special needs. — BULLETIN, March 1, 2010

*Born with cerebral palsy, Melody, 10, has never spoken a word. She is a brilliant fifth grader trapped in an uncontrollable body. Her world is enhanced by insight and intellect, but gypped by physical limitations and misunderstandings. She will never sing or dance, talk on the phone, or whisper secrets to her friends. She’s not complaining, though; she’s planning and fighting the odds. In her court are family, good neighbors, and an attentive student teacher. Pitted against her is the “normal” world: schools with limited resources, cliquish girls, superficial assumptions, and her own disability. Melody’s life is tragically complicated. She is mainly placed in the special-ed classroom where education means being babysat in a room with replayed cartoons and nursery tunes. Her supportive family sets her up with a computer. She learns the strength of thumbs as she taps on a special keyboard that finally lets her “talk.” When she is transitioned into the regular classroom, Melody’s undeniable contribution enables her class to make it to the national quiz team finals. Then something happens that causes her to miss the finals, and she is devastated by her classmates’ actions. Kids will benefit from being introduced to Melody and her gutsy, candid, and compelling story. It speaks volumes and reveals the quiet strength and fortitude it takes to overcome disabilities and the misconceptions that go with them. –School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW

*Fifth-grader Melody has cerebral palsy, a condition that affects her body but not her mind. Although she is unable to walk, talk, or feed or care for herself, she can read, think, and feel. A brilliant person is trapped inside her body, determined to make her mark in the world in spite of her physical limitations. Draper knows of what she writes; her daughter, Wendy, has cerebral palsy, too. And although Melody is not Wendy, the authenticity of the story is obvious. Told in Melody's voice, this highly readable, compelling novel quickly establishes her determination and intelligence and the almost insurmountable challenges she faces. It also reveals her parents' and caretakers' courage in insisting that Melody be treated as the smart, perceptive child she is, and their perceptiveness in understanding how to help her, encourage her, and discourage self-pity from others. Thoughtless teachers, cruel classmates, Melody's unattractive clothes ("Mom seemed to be choosing them by how easy they'd be to get on me"), and bathroom issues threaten her spirit, yet the brave Melody shines through. Uplifting and upsetting, this is a book that defies age categorization, an easy enough read for upper-elementary students yet also a story that will enlighten and resonate with teens and adults. Similar to yet the antithesis of Terry Trueman's Stuck in Neutral (2000), this moving novel will make activists of us all. –Booklist STARRED REVIEW

Melody Brooks, in a wheelchair and unable to speak, narrates this story about finding her voice. The first half of the book catalogues Melody's struggles—from her frustration with learning the same preschool lessons year after year to her inability to express a craving for a Big Mac. Draper, whose daughter has cerebral palsy, writes with authority, and the rage behind Melody's narrative is perfectly illustrated in scenes demonstrating the startling ignorance of many professionals (a doctor diagnoses Melody as “profoundly retarded”), teachers, and classmates. The lack of tension in the plot is resolved halfway through when Melody, at age 10, receives a talking computer, allowing her to “speak.” Only those with hearts of stone won't blubber when Melody tells her parents “I love you” for the first time. Melody's off-the-charts smarts are revealed when she tests onto her school's quiz bowl team, and the story shifts to something closer to The View from Saturday than Stuck in Neutral. A horrific event at the end nearly plunges the story into melodrama and steers the spotlight away from Melody's determination, which otherwise drives the story. Ages 10–up. (Mar.) –Publishers Weekly

Unflinching and realistic...Rich in details of both the essential normalcy and the difficulties of a young person with cerebral palsy. –Kirkus STARRED REVIEW

This powerful story by a two-time Coretta Scott King winner offers a wrenching insight into so many vital lives that the able-bodied overlook. If there's only one book teens and parents (and everyone else) can read this year, "Out of My Mind" should be it. —The Denver Post

"Like Stephen Hawking, who becomes her hero, Melody discovers that her inner strength and intelligence are more reliable than most of the humans around her. She becomes an activist for herself, even as Draper challenges those who read her story to become activists for those who are different." -The Columbus Dispatch

VOYA - Walter Hogan
Although she's afflicted with cerebral palsy (CP), fifth grader Melody experiences a rich mental life, which is immediately evident to readers of her engaging first-person narration. Due to her inability to control her muscles or speak, she has to overcome initial assumptions that she is also mentally impaired. Only after acquiring an electric wheelchair and a special communication device can Melody begin to transmit her thoughts "out of her mind" and convince her teachers and schoolmates that she is an intelligent person inhabiting an unresponsive body, much like her hero, Stephen Hawking. Draper, a retired teacher (and, as explained in her author note, the mother of a grown daughter with CP), is superbly qualified to describe both home life and the public school setting from the perspective of a child with CP. Melody is mainstreamed into some regular classes, including a history class in which she earns a prized spot on a quiz team. Melody's triumphs and setbacks as she strives to become a socially accepted classmate and team member are vividly described in this inspirational novel, which will appeal not only to middle school readers but also to anyone who wonders what might be going on in the minds of individuals with severe physical handicaps. Draper's sensitive immersion in the mind of a specially challenged eleven year old joins a number of other excellent recent YA novels about CP. Ron Koertge's Stoner & Spaz (Candlewick, 2002/VOYA April 2002), Harriet McBryde Johnson's Accidents of Nature (Holt, 2006/VOYA August 2006) and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer's Reaching for the Sun (Bloomsbury, 2007) are about older teens with CP. Terry Trueman's acclaimed Stuck in Neutral (HarperCollins, 2000/VOYA December 2000) is narrated by a fourteen-year-old with CP. Reviewer: Walter Hogan
Children's Literature - Heather Robertson Mason
Melody is extremely smart. She remembers everything she sees and hears and understands much more than her fellow classmates; however, no one knows it because she has cerebral palsy and cannot speak. Everyone assumes that because she cannot talk, she cannot learn—everyone but her parents, Mrs. V, and one teacher's aide who are positive that she is more capable than anyone could imagine. When the school moves to an inclusion model and Melody is able to attend classes with "regular" kids, she finds that she is the outcast among them. When the chance to compete in the Whiz Kids Bowl comes up, Melody has to decide whether it is worth the risk to try to prove herself or to hide back in the resource room. This is a truly moving novel. Never will you look at kids, or adults for that matter, like Melody the same. Her passion for learning, her openness with her feelings about her disability and the fact that there is no happy ending where everyone gets what they want forces readers to examine their own views on people who may not seem "normal." This book is a realistic yet warm look into a subject most people would choose to ignore. But Melody doesn't want to be ignored anymore. Reviewer: Heather Robertson Mason
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Fifth grader Melody Brooks can't walk, can't hold on to things, can't feed herself, and can't talk like other kids her age. She has cerebral palsy, goes everywhere in a wheelchair, and attends school with other kids with special needs. Although she's never spoken a single word, Melody is brilliant but trapped by her physical limitations. When she gets a computer with a special keyboard, she finally has a voice. Her school begins integrating the special ed kids into select classes, and Melody seizes the chance to prove herself to everyone. Sharon M. Draper has populated her compelling novel (Atheneum, 2010) with vibrant characters, and narrator Sisi Aisha Johnson brings each one to their full potential, giving Melody the sass she deserves, and perfectly voicing her mother's fierce love and her father's jovial humanity. Sure to inspire listeners of all ages.—Sara Saxton, Tuzzy Consortium Library, Barrow, AK
Mary Quattlebaum
In Melody, author Sharon Draper creates an authentic character who insists, through her lively voice and indomitable will, that the reader become fully involved with the girl in the pink wheelchair. Details such as the messy particulars of Melody's daily routine, her anger over being babied intellectually and the arguments between her loving but strained parents add verisimilitude to this important novel.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Melody Brooks, in a wheelchair and unable to speak, narrates this story about finding her voice. The first half of the book catalogues Melody's struggles—from her frustration with learning the same preschool lessons year after year to her inability to express a craving for a Big Mac. Draper, whose daughter has cerebral palsy, writes with authority, and the rage behind Melody's narrative is perfectly illustrated in scenes demonstrating the startling ignorance of many professionals (a doctor diagnoses Melody as “profoundly retarded”), teachers, and classmates. The lack of tension in the plot is resolved halfway through when Melody, at age 10, receives a talking computer, allowing her to “speak.” Only those with hearts of stone won't blubber when Melody tells her parents “I love you” for the first time. Melody's off-the-charts smarts are revealed when she tests onto her school's quiz bowl team, and the story shifts to something closer to The View from Saturday than Stuck in Neutral. A horrific event at the end nearly plunges the story into melodrama and steers the spotlight away from Melody's determination, which otherwise drives the story. Ages 10–up. (Mar.)
Booklist
Fifth-grader Melody has cerebral palsy, a condition that affects her body but not her mind. Although she is unable to walk, talk, or feed or care for herself, she can read, think, and feel. A brilliant person is trapped inside her body, determined to make her mark in the world in spite of her physical limitations. Draper knows of what she writes; her daughter, Wendy, has cerebral palsy, too. And although Melody is not Wendy, the authenticity of the story is obvious. Told in Melody's voice, this highly readable, compelling novel quickly establishes her determination and intelligence and the almost insurmountable challenges she faces. It also reveals her parents' and caretakers' courage in insisting that Melody be treated as the smart, perceptive child she is, and their perceptiveness in understanding how to help her, encourage her, and discourage self-pity from others. Thoughtless teachers, cruel classmates, Melody's unattractive clothes ("Mom seemed to be choosing them by how easy they'd be to get on me"), and bathroom issues threaten her spirit, yet the brave Melody shines through. Uplifting and upsetting, this is a book that defies age categorization, an easy enough read for upper-elementary students yet also a story that will enlighten and resonate with teens and adults. Similar to yet the antithesis of Terry Trueman's Stuck in Neutral (2000), this moving novel will make activists of us all.
—Frances Bradburn
Kirkus Reviews
Melody, diagnosed with cerebral palsy, cannot walk or talk. Despite her parents' best efforts, the outside world has defined her by her condition. Melody's life changes when inclusion classrooms are introduced in her school, and she interacts with children other than those in her special-needs unit. To these children, Melody is "other," and they are mostly uncomfortable with her sounds and jerky movements. Normal problems of school friendships are magnified. Preparation for a trivia competition and acquisition of a computer that lets her communicate her thoughts reveal Melody's intelligence to the world. Melody is an entirely complete character, who gives a compelling view from inside her mind. Draper never shies away from the difficulties Melody and her family face. Descriptions of both Melody's challenges-"Going to the bathroom at school just plain sucks"-and the insensitivities of some are unflinching and realistic. Realistically, Melody's resilient spirit cannot keep her from experiencing heartbreak and disappointment even after she has demonstrated her intellect. This book is rich in detail of both the essential normalcy and the difficulties of a young person with cerebral palsy. (Fiction. 10 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416971702
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
03/09/2010
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
177,421
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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