Thursday, June 16, 2011

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

This book follows the life of a girl with cerebral palsy, Melody, and I gave it a rating of five out of five. Melody has a photographic memory and can remember most of the events from her life. She's highly intelligent, but she can't speak and can't move her muscles voluntarily. Melody's parents love and care for her, but their neighbor, Mrs. V, really starts to challenge Melody. Melody enters the public school and wants to be like everyone else, but she's stuck in her own special education room most of the day watching cartoons or relearning her ABC's. Then, in fifth grade, she becomes part of an inclusion class and really starts to blossom. She gets a new computer that helps her communicate with others, and it really opens the eyes of everyone at the school. She tries out for the school's quiz team and is the first person in the school's history to get all of the tryout questions correct. A win at the local competition will send the team to Washington D.C. for the national tournament and a possible appearance on Good Morning America, an ABC morning show. Sounds like Melody is headed for a storybook ending.

The author did a great job of letting me know Melody's feelings and thoughts, and it showed her frustration at having an intelligent brain with no way to share it. It described the mixed reactions of her classmates, but she wasn't able to make a special friend. She just wanted to be like everyone else. The quiz team offered an opportunity to bond with her classmates, but it's sometimes hard to identify true friendship. I enjoyed the conflict and plot, but don't expect a happy climax. Some adolescent novels show that stories from the real world don't end fairly or in feel-good ways. Hopefully, it will help readers appreciate students they know with special needs.

Lexile level from lexile.com 700


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