Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Words. Words are how we express ourselves every day in our life. Could you even imagine not being able to talk and use words? Well, now you don’t have to. Sharon M. Draper takes us through the life of Melody, a 10-year-old girl who can’t talk, with the beautifully written story, Out of my Mind

In this elementary to middle school grade book, Melody is a very smart girl. She can remember anything because after all, she does have a photographic memory. However, this side of Melody will never be shown because she can’t talk. Melody has a condition known as Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a condition where a person can not control their body very well and can not speak. This is why Melody spends most of her life strapped into a pink wheelchair. 

At Melody’s school, Spaulding Street Elementary School, she is in 5th grade but learns the same thing every single year. Imagine how boring that would be considering how smart Melody is. She wants to express herself so badly, but she just can’t. Luckily, Mrs. Valencia (Mrs. V.) knows Melody and understands her well. Mrs. V is Melody’s neighbor. They have known each other since Melody was a newborn. They together go through a journey that helps Melody express herself. The first words Melody expresses to her parents will melt your heart. 

One of the great features Draper included in this book is that you actually feel like you are a part of Melody’s story. You will feel included. You will feel sad and heartbroken when doctors want to send Melody away. You will feel overjoyed and happy when Melody can express herself for the first time. There were really no down-points of this book in my opinion. It truly is a realistic, believable, heartwarming story. If you love realistic fiction books about how people overcome challenges in their life, this book is definitely for you. I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars instantly.

If you have read Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, and you enjoyed it, I know you will love this book. The books are similar, they are both about how girls overcome life challenges. I have read both books, and I know you will love both of them. If this book is for you, go get and read Out of my Mind! Once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down. You will have to keep turning the pages! Now go read!

-Abby V.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: The Importance of Companionship

This post assumes you have already read Of Mice and Men as it contains spoilers.

John Steinbeck’s social realism novella Of Mice and Men portrays the necessity for companionship in one’s life, especially migrant workers during the Great Depression. For instance, when Carlson kills Candy’s dog, the men feel anxious about how Candy will react while Candy feels helpless that he has lost his only companion which illustrates the need for friendship between individuals.

Typical migrant workers do not spend the day socializing, but rather traveling from place to place to earn money. They then spend it in foolish ways as they have no future which shows the significant need for fellowship in these particular individuals. Candy for instance had the companionship of his dog but was then pressured into allowing Carlson to kill it as it had no purpose due to old age. While his dog is being shot, Candy is “staring” at the ceiling and then “rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent” after the “shot sounded in the distance” (49). Candy feels depressed, hopeless, and wishes to mourn in private. With the death of his dog, he has no family or friends left and it can be difficult not having someone to confide in or provide for. Even the rest of the men in the room are anxious as George “rippled the edge of the deck nervously” (49). This reveals that they feel guilty as they know life can be harsh without a companion. For example, George and Lennie have each other to keep them sane and they have a future together. The “silence” (49) in the room shows the situation is uncomfortable between all of the men. Candy is now all alone and does not have anybody.

Having no one to turn to in life’s hardest moments can have a severe impact on one’s mental health. People’s purpose in life and their health are defined based on the companionships they form.

-Abby V.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.