Saturday, November 29, 2014

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. 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 it. Most people, her teachers and doctors included, don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write. 

Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind, that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it. 

From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you'll never, ever forget.

My Thoughts:
For me, this book was eye-opening. I've known a couple of people with severe physical disabilities but, to be completely honest, never thought much about how smart they were. That Melody's voice is so very normal was eye-opening. I feel like every kid middle school and older should read this book. I wish I had read it when I was a kid (or that it existed when I was kid). It definitely would have changed the way I thought about disabilities. Even now, reading it as an adult, it completely changes the way I view disabilities.

Melody's voice was so normal. In fact, maybe a little too normal. There wasn't much to differentiate her from anyone else besides her disability, if that makes sense. But maybe that was the author's point? There's also the matter of Melody's outdated expressions and the author's general use of semi-cheesy language. But the book never exactly stated what year it was so maybe it was set in the '90s? And, except for one little time at the very end of the book, her parents are the most perfect parents. Ever. In the history of parents. Which is just a bit unrealistic. But I liked Melody and her family. I cared about them. And they taught me a lot.

Mrs. V. was my favorite character but I think we were supposed to love her. She's supportive without being overbearing, nice without feeling unrealistic. And she told everything like it was. All the school kids were very one-dimensional with the exception of Rose. But even then she didn't have too much depth. As an adult I hope for more, but as a kid I don't think I would have cared that much.

There are some things that bothered me. For one, why were all the teachers so horrible? I understand that Draper, herself, has a severely disabled child who went through the public school system in the '80s and '90s, right? So I'm assuming that she took all of her public school horror stories and smooshed them all together into this one book. Because I find it hard to believe that all Melody's teachers could have been so awful. I also find it hard to believe that when Melody finally did attend the inclusion classes, that the teachers did little to reprimand the mean kids from saying things about Melody. And then there were two huge things happened at the very end of the book. The first thing was just sad. And mean. And petty. And it made me hate people in general because I don't really think regular people would do that to someone. The second thing just felt so pointless and out of place. I still don't really understand why it was in the book other than to create major drama just before it ended. 

I guess I had a few more negative things to say about this book than I thought. But I learned a lot from it. I will remember it. And it has already affected the way I think about people with disabilities. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially pre-teens.

Sexual Content: None
Language: None
Violence: None
Drugs/Alcohol: None

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