Out of My Mind

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Out of My Mind (paperback)

by Sharon M. Draper

AR Level 4.3, 8 points

I’m on a “books about people with disabilities and/or teach kids to be tolerant and kind and aware” kick.  There was Because of Mr. Terupt, Rules, and a few others.  Out of My Mind gives a different perspective, that of the person WITH the disability.  We normally see from another person’s perspective how people treat a person with a disability, whether it is a physical, academic, behavioral, or something like autism.  This story is written solely from the perspective of someone with a lot to offer but without the ability to offer it.

Melody is a fifth grader with cerebral palsy.  She is in a wheelchair and cannot talk, so she has been overlooked all of her life.  Her class is (from my experience as a special education teacher) a moderate to severe special day class, and she has had a series of terrible teachers who did not last.  She finally gets a good teacher who recognizes her potential, gets her a 1:1 aide, and mainstreams her into the general education program.  Melody’s potential is soon recognized (and doubted) when she wins a spot on the quiz team at her school.  I won’t give away the story, but there are a few horrible things that happen, things that would make you want to make phone calls and write angry emails and hire a lawyer if they were to happen to you.  Other things are accidents.  Regardless of the situation, Melody is a strong, determined, brilliant young girl who handles most situations with grace and a maturity beyond her years.

What I liked about this book was the change in Melody.  She started out telling her story to us, but she couldn’t really tell her story.  She almost seemed depressed, not being able to communicate or get what she wanted.  She was misunderstood, too.  Her mother thought she killed her own goldfish, and her father didn’t understand that she wanted a burger and a shake.  Her classmates and teachers didn’t realize that she was NOT mentally retarded, but quite the opposite.  I really liked how she was able to prove them wrong and get control of her life.

What I didn’t like about this book was it didn’t really feel like Melody got justice.  I wanted to see her classmates learn their lesson through a crushing fall, an injury, a major burn to their ego.  That didn’t happen.  I wanted the man in the ugly brown suit to get fired or written up or quit due to public shaming, but he did not.  I guess that is reality, though.  The lesson might be learned later, or it may never be learned at all.  It left me with a frustrated feeling, but as I mentioned before, sometimes frustrating endings make it a good book, because it draws out your emotion and causes a reaction.

Book 27 of 52

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