Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Started: February 25, 2011
Finished: March 7, 2011
Format: Checked out from my library
Goal: 6 of 25

This is one of those "buzz" books that I kept hearing and reading about; it's on the Texas Bluebonnet List for next year, and I'm sure it will be nominated and WIN numerous awards--maybe even the Newbery. This book lives up to the hype. Out of My Mind should be required reading for all of humanity--and I mean that with all of my heart.

While you roll your eyes and think "She loves everything she reads," I admit that you are right. If you've been following my blog then you might have noticed that I like to gush about the books that I read. I'm in the book-picking business (that's why they pay me the big bucks): I know what I like and that's what I read.

But this book is a different breed. It goes beyond "excellent" into the "soul-touching, life-changing" category (there I go again...gush, gush, gush). Seriously, this book changed me, and I'm not the only one. Go ahead--Amazon-it (yes, that's a verb--just like Google). I'm not the only one in love with this book.

This is the story of Melody, an unforgetable eleven year old girl who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, a disease that cripples her body but not her brain. Melody is a genius with a photographic memory--a strong, feisty, funny girl whose brilliance is stuck inside her mind. Can you even imagine? To have so much to share about the world but have it all held captive in your head?

Meet Melody:

"Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes--each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.

Deep within me, words pile up in huge drifts. Mountains of phrases and sentences and connected ideas. Clever expressions. Jokes. Love songs.

From the time I was really little--maybe just a few months old--words were like sweet, liquid gifts, and I drank them like lemonade. I could almost taste them. They made my jumbled thoughts and feelings have substance. My parents have always blanketed me with conversation. They chattered and babbled. They verbalized and vocalized. My father sang to me. My mother whispered her strength into my ear.

Every word my parents spoke to me or about me I absorbed and kept and remembered. All of them.

I have no idea how I untangled the complicated process of words and thought, but it happened quickly and naturally. By the time I was two, all my memories had words, and all my words had meanings.

But only in my head.

I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old." p. 1-2

And that's just the first page. If you aren't hooked already, then I'll give you a bit more:

"Everybody uses words to express themselves. Except me. And I bet most people don't realize the real power of words. But I do.

Thoughts need words. Words need a voice.

I love the smell of my mother's hair after she washes it. I love the feel of the scratchy stubble on my father's face before he shaves.

But I've never been able to tell them." p. 8

I don't want to give the "big stuff" away, but I will say this: through the miracles of modern technology, Melody is given a machine that allows her to communicate for the first time in her life; it gives her a "voice."People discover what her family already knows: Melody is a genius. She tries out for her school's Whiz Kids Quiz Team. And I won't tell you what happens...I will say that it was not the ending that I expected.

You better believe I am on a personal mission to tell everyone I know to read this book. I felt this way about The Book Thief and The Help. Now add Out of My Mind to that list. I especially want teachers to share this as a read aloud with their students. What a powerful way to teach so many lessons about tolerance and acceptance in a cruel, judgemental world. Melody is a new kind of hero whose story needs to be shared with people of all ages.

This book is not perfect. The dialog of the fifth graders is not authentic; believe me, I know how fifth graders talk, and Draper creates dialog that sounds like an adult trying really hard to sound like a kid.

But I'm willing to forgive that because of the feelings that overwhelmed me while reading this book. I cried--twice. And not just the misty-moisture- that-blurs-the-words-type of cry. I'm talking tears-streaming-down-my-face-ugly-sobbing-type of cry. Twice. Chapter 15 alone undid me.

Read this book. Please. And I dare you not to be moved. Just have some Kleenex handy. Just don't say I didn't warn you about Chapter 15.


  1. Yes, I'll try to get a copy from the library and bring it to you. :)

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