Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

At age eleven, Melody Brooks is full of knowledge and curiosity. However, she struggles from cerebral palsy, which limits her body, but not her mind.

For her entire life, Melody’s communication has been limited to a small board with twenty basic words printed on it. All she can do is point to the words, with no other way to put her complex thoughts into words and sentences.

Born with a photographic memory, Melody is a video recorder always capturing everything around her. However, she’s never been able to share what she thinks and knows. Always being underestimated, Melody’s daily routine at school is listening to nursery rhymes and reviewing the alphabet. Every. Single. Day.

All Melody’s memories have words, and all her words have meanings, but only in her head: She’s never spoken a single word. Most people don’t realize the importance and power of words, but Melody definitely does. She explains that thoughts need words, and words need a voice, which is something almost everyone except her has.

One day, Melody and the rest of her class—other kids with physical differences—are informed that they will get to attend some inclusion classes. Real classes with ordinary fifth grade students! But this experience isn’t as great as it sounds. The other students look at her funny and seem to believe she’s just as mentally challenged as she is physically. In truth, she’s the smartest student in her entire school.

But there’s no way anyone will ever know that. She can’t walk, she can’t write, she can’t talk . . . until she discovers a device that will allow her to speak—out loud—what’s on her mind, for the first time ever. At last, Melody has a voice! Even so, as she journeys through fifth grade learning, growing, talking, and making new friends, she realizes that not everyone is ready to hear it.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is an absolutely incredible must-read that cannot be passed over. The perspective and power of this book have significantly changed me and the way I think. As Melody Brooks strives to teach everyone—herself included—to believe in her, readers will be taken on an unforgettable experience. While taking in this wonderful story, readers will think about everything they’ve ever known in a different light and realize that some things we take for granted don’t come as easily to others.

-Lam T.

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.