You thought I was talking about myself, didn’t you? Actually I’m talking about the book, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Have you read it? If not, open up a new tab in your browser and order it from Amazon right this second!
About two years ago, someone told me to get this book and read it. I looked it up, saw what it was about, and decided I wasn’t up for it. Then last week at our staff meeting, they announced that this was the book we were reading as a school. Everyone received their own copy. I decided it was time I “manned” up and read it.
The book is about Melody, an 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. Everyone thinks she has mental retardation because she can’t speak. Only her parents and her babysitter know that Melody is much more intelligent than she seems. Melody understands everything, has a photographic memory and is super intelligent. She just can’t let anyone know because she can’t speak. She is also a paraplegic. Stuck in a “baby” class at school, ignored by her peers and underestimated by her teachers, Melody is frustrated. One day she sees another student’s new computer and thinks there has to be a computer out there somewhere that could help her speak.
She finds it.
Melody gets the communication device and, all of a sudden, she can “talk”! It turns out it’s not as great as she thought it would be. She still feels ignored and underestimated. I can’t really tell you much else without giving away the story, but please, please, please read this book. It’s amazing.
The whole time I’m reading it, I’m thinking of Olivia, of course. I cried throughout the entire book. I started to highlight words and passages and realized I would end up highlighting the whole damn thing. It was a difficult read, I’m not going to lie. But it was worth it and it was inspiring. It made me think. Does Olivia ever feel trapped inside her own head and body? I’m sure she does. There are a couple of instances in the book where Melody is trying to tell her Mom something, but without words, her Mom just gets frustrated with her for freaking out for “no reason”. Have I ever done that to Olivia? Without a doubt, I’m sure I have without even realizing it. Those parts of the book made me sad. I try my best to never underestimate Olivia and to always know what she needs, but I’m not perfect.
The parts that made me most upset were the instances in which Melody is treated poorly by her peers and teachers. You will want to take Claire out back and shoot her. You will want to strangle some of Melody’s teachers. There is one major plot turn where you will want to scream in frustration. But all of Draper’s messages come through loud and clear. People with disabilities are just…people. That’s it. And everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.
I did like how Melody’s relationship with her parents and her babysitter were portrayed. Those felt like home. There is so much love. I also enjoyed that Draper didn’t sugar coat what it’s like to be a parent of a child with special needs. She kept it real.
I am really glad everyone at my school is reading it. I think it should be required reading for all humans! Let me know what you think!