Out of My Mind is told by a girl who cannot speak – or even move at all – yet she loves words. Melody is practically trapped in her body. But she feels words. Sees words.
So, how does she tell the story?
That’s the question.
I absolutely loved Out of My Mind by Sharon M Draper and I have yet to find a middle school student who does not also adore the book. I understood Melody, who has cerebral palsy and is unable to speak, yet is highly intelligent. Draper does an exceptional job of getting the reader to feel what Melody feels and to empathize with her. The stakes in the story are high enough to keep you reading yet not falsely trumped up as some middle grades can be. There is no unnecessary death, rather the normal ups and downs of a fifth grader, told through an extraordinary lens: Melody’s.
I would recommend this book to any middle school reader who enjoys complex characters, and a realistic yet unusual story well told. This book will stay with you because it will expand your understanding of the human experience.
For teachers, this book will help with the Common Core Literacy standard to describe how a narrator’s point of view influences how events are described (ELA Literacy RL 5.6). Melody can describe events so accurately yet she is nearly unable to participate in them, verbally at least. Teachers will be able to imagine all sorts of ways to simulate this feeling for students in class. Abled-students have real difficulty with this feeling. Chapters one and two are particularly rich with “concrete words and phrases and sensory details” called for in the ELA Writing standards (ELA Writing 5.3d).
Out of My Mind
Sharon M Draper