Draper, Sharon. Out of my Mind. Atheneum Books, 2010
Melody has an excellent memory. She always remember everything that she hears, sees, tastes, smells, and touches. There is no “delete” button in her brain. Despite her special fete, she hears the same preschool words and the alphabet everyday. Why? She has never spoken or wrote a single sentence in her entire life. She cannot do anything on her own except think, breath, and sometimes move her thumb. She is almost eleven years old.
Her depressing life continues on like that until she receives her Meditalker. Then, the school started this inclusion program so that students like her can join what the “normal students” are learning. There, she perfected all tests, and she answered every question correctly. She was then invited to the Whiz Kids school team, where they compete academically against other teams. With Melody’s help, the school won first place in the regional competition, but something catastrophic happened after that. The school team had left her when they boarded the plane to Washington DC to compete because they were scared that her drooling would embarrass their school. Unfortunately, a reporter who came to interview them left when he realized that she was not there. Without her strong mind, the school lost the competition, being ninth place.
However, I think the book is unrealistic. Melody can just tap out Morse Code with her working finger. Her parents should have already recognized that a speech device would help her, not until she told her parents. In addition, the teachers there are absurd. Don’t they believe that the “special kids” are smart enough to differentiate between their kindergarten classroom full of painted bunnies and rainbows and the normal classroom that students their age study in? In addition, the last two events make the book worse. The first event, where her team leaves her behind on the flight to Washington DC to compete, is completely predictable, which proves what a terrible teacher Mr.Dimming is. The second, where Melody’s sister gets injured in a car crash, I do not completely understand. It had no effect on the story at all, except to add a few paragraphs at the end of the story. The ending is not very good, maybe because the author rushed in order to meet the deadline. However, I still enjoy the book…until the last two events happened.
This book taught me a big lesson that I have doubted in my life:acceptance and inclusion. First, Melody has to accept who she is and be herself, her classmates, teachers, and parents have to accept who she is and her disability. Everyone around her has to tolerate it because of her disorder, but not everyone will do that. That is why she has those things called “tornado attacks”, because the “haters” around Melody will not accept her.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is a disabilities activist or would feel what it is like to be disabled.