Monday, December 10, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Out of my Mnd

Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper (Atheneum, March 2010)

Read with my 9-year-old as part of the Oregon Battle of the Books 2013 project.

There was a lot of word-of-mouth about this book, and my son was eager to read it. It didn't disappoint!

The story (via Goodreads):
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.

Opening lines: Words. I'm surrounded by thousands of words. Maybe millions.

What I liked: Words are indeed the stuff of Melody's life. She is a genius trapped in a body that doesn't work because of cerebral palsy. I found her voice to be engaging, and her struggles and triumphs to be believable. She has loving parents, who nonetheless have issues trying to care for her and to understand her. 

The major plot point has to do with Melody qualifying for her school's trivia team, and the reactions which ensue. I appreciated that the whole thing didn't spiral down into a Hallmark moment, and that there was a setback and a near tragedy. I found the experience of reading it as being similar to WONDER--as in I should have shares in Kleenex! This is a five-hanky one!!

My son was eager to read this every night. He too found the character of Melody appealing, and enjoyed the humor. The mean girls also got a well-deserved raspberry from him. I'd recommend this for 4th grade and above.

If you want to know more about the author here's an interview with Sharon M. Draper at Goodreads.

Happy Marvelous Middle Grade Monday Everyone!!


  1. The one thing that confused me-- I thought this was about the daughter of the character in November Blues, because that child was born with disabilities. Took me the longest time to realize it was not-- I never remember character names, and it worked to my disadvantage this time.

  2. Wow! This sounds like a really interesting read. Love the tite. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. I've heard of this but never knew much about the plot. You make it sound wonderful, Michael! Another one to add to the TBR list.

  4. Sounds so intriguing! I want to know what she has to say.

  5. This sound like an incredible and emotional story. I cannot wait to read this.

  6. I have to read this one! It sounds like a compelling story.

  7. Oh wow! I usually read to escape the harshness of reality and I also write for the same reason. I deeply admire books like this and the authors behind them.
    I'm adding it to my list. Thanks for a great feature.

  8. Michael - thanks for this one! I was thinking of WONDER, too, before you mentioned it at the bottom. That book also had the potential of getting too Hallmarky, but it didn't.

    I've often thought about how frustrating it must be to have a brilliant mind trapped in a body that won't cooperate. Great premise for a book that with the potential to shift young perspectives.

  9. My 5th grade daughter read this for her book club with a few friends and they all loved it. She still talks it up and recommends to others.

  10. This book should be required reading at every school, since every school now includes a special needs population. Required reading for both teachers and students. It brings to light the problems faced by many students in our public school system that are often overlooked. Indeed, if you're looking for something deep and meaningful, check out Draper's amazing book. I hope more students will pick up this title as well; it will really make them think twice before teasing their less capable peers in the future.
    Thanks for your review , Michael.

    Jeff Rivera
    Bestselling Author


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