Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Title: Out of My Mind
Author: Sharon Draper
Enjoyment Rating: 8/10
Referral: Annie read it and insisted I follow suit
Source: School book fair
Books I've read this year: 151

Out of My Mind is the story of Melody, a ten-year-old girl who has never said a word. Melody has cerebral palsy, and although her parents and a kind neighbor believe that there's a brain that works inside her damaged body, they don't know how to access it until a fantastic teacher and a helpful aide find a computer that will speak for Melody. Suddenly, everything she has learned and held bottled up over the last decade comes spilling out.

I think that Out of My Mind is probably a pretty good representation of what life might be like for a young girl with cerebral palsy. She knows she's different, but desperately wants to fit in and have a friend. Some of her typical peers are outright mean, others ignore her, and others want to be nice as long as it doesn't compromise their own social standing. Melody is aware enough to pick up on even the subtle slights. As she gains more recognition for her smarts, the stakes become higher in how she's treated.

One thing that I like about Out of My Mind is that there's no saccharine happy ending for the book. Melody's life, even though it's better now that she can communicate, will always be hard. I think that's a bold move for Draper to make as an author of a YA novel. But I think that she unnecessarily complicated the action of the novel by throwing in a dramatic plot device at the end. The story would have been powerful enough without complicating it with tragedies involving other family members. But overall, a great book. I think Annie has read it three times since she got it a few weeks ago. I'd like to see more books written with strong YA/middle grade characters who are learning to live with disabilities.

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