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Out of My Mind Hardcover – March 9, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 2,228 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you'll never, ever forget.

A Note to Readers from Author Sharon Draper

People often ask me, "What was your inspiration for Out of my Mind?" I reply, "All great stories emerge from deep truths that rest within us." But the real truth of a story often can be found in places that not even the author has dared to explore. I suppose the character of Melody came from my experiences in raising a child with developmental difficulties. But Melody is not my daughter. Melody is pure fiction--a unique little girl who has come into being from a mixture of love and understanding. Out of my Mind is the story of a ten-year-old-girl who cannot walk or talk. She has spirit, determination, intelligence and wit, and no one knows it. But from buildings that are not wheelchair--accessible to classmates who make fun of her she finds a strength within herself she never knew existed.

I was fiercely adamant that nobody feel sorry for Melody. I wanted her to be accepted as a character and as a person, not as a representative for people with disabilities. Melody is a tribute to all the parents of disabled kids who struggle, to all those children who are misunderstood, to all those caregivers who help every step of the way. It's also written for people who look away, who pretend they don't see, or who don't know what to say when they encounter someone who faces life with obvious differences. Just smile and say hello!

--Sharon M. Draper

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4–6—Born with cerebral palsy, Melody, 10, has never spoken a word. She is a brilliant fifth grader trapped in an uncontrollable body. Her world is enhanced by insight and intellect, but gypped by physical limitations and misunderstandings. She will never sing or dance, talk on the phone, or whisper secrets to her friends. She's not complaining, though; she's planning and fighting the odds. In her court are family, good neighbors, and an attentive student teacher. Pitted against her is the "normal" world: schools with limited resources, cliquish girls, superficial assumptions, and her own disability. Melody's life is tragically complicated. She is mainly placed in the special-ed classroom where education means being babysat in a room with replayed cartoons and nursery tunes. Her supportive family sets her up with a computer. She learns the strength of thumbs as she taps on a special keyboard that finally lets her "talk." When she is transitioned into the regular classroom, Melody's undeniable contribution enables her class to make it to the national quiz team finals. Then something happens that causes her to miss the finals, and she is devastated by her classmates' actions. Kids will benefit from being introduced to Melody and her gutsy, candid, and compelling story. It speaks volumes and reveals the quiet strength and fortitude it takes to overcome disabilities and the misconceptions that go with them.—Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Lexile Measure edition (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141697170X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416971702
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,228 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Mastin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A few weeks ago, Kelly wasn't feeling well so I took off work to fill in for her at the kids' Valentine's Day parties at school. First I went to Chloe's second grade class. Chloe is non-verbal and has some physical limitations and development delays due to an unidentified genetic disorder. Prior to this year, she has been in special ed classes, with part of her day spent in regular ed classes. Now she is in a regular ed class all day with a full-time assistant and is the only child in her class with special needs.

As I sat and watched her interact with the other kids at her table, the other kids' interactions with her impressed me. Without fail, they were sweet, helpful, friendly, and even conversational. Chloe will nod in response, but does not speak, and does not make a lot of eye contact. Yet these kids spoke and interacted with her as if nothing was different about her. One of the little girls asked me if I was Chloe's daddy. I told her I was. She said, "Chloe and I are best friends!" I'm telling you I almost lost it there; I had to exercise lots of self-restraint not to cry in front of her. I loved seeing Chloe, who is content to play alone in her room for hours on end, in this setting, with such great support from her peers.

Then I went to help set up for Elliot's 6th grade party and was intercepted by one of his teachers. Almost breathlessly, she said, "I read a book you have to read. It's called Out of My Mind, and I thought of Chloe the whole time I was reading it!" She had told Elliot the same thing, so he read it and told Kelly about it so she read it, and since they liked it so much, I picked it up yesterday. I hardly put it down and finished it in a day.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm writing this review after consulting with my 11-year-old daughter Laurel, who has severe cerebral palsy and can't walk, talk, or do activities of daily living for herself. In other words, she's a lot like Melody, the protagonist of this book. In Laurel's case, she communicates by using eye gaze to indicate yes/no or one of two choices (Laurel very badly wants a communication system similar to Melody's that would work with eye gaze, and we're looking into it now). We read this book together (like Melody, although Laurel can read, her eyes jump around and it's hard for her to follow lines). Laurel gives Out of My Mind five stars. She indicates that she feels that the book is realistic, both in terms of the character of Melody (except for the perfect memory; although perfect memory does exist, it's very, very rare, and Laurel forgets things like the rest of us) and the way people treat Melody. Although Laurel has never been wholly isolated from her peers, she relates to the experiences of being taught the same thing over and over again (in Laurel's case, it was shapes) and of spending large amounts of time in the special education room. Contrary to some comments, she does not feel that having therapists included in the narrative would have significantly changed the arc of the story. Laurel feels that this is an excellent book for people to read if they want to have a better understanding of people like her.
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Format: Hardcover
Melody is trapped in her own body. Born with cerebral palsey, she is unable to perform most of the basic physical functions that the rest of us take for granted. But her mind is completely normal - actually, it's significantly above normal. However, almost no one realizes that she has any intellectual capabilities. She attends school as part of the special education program, being partially integrated into the regular classroom, where kids are outright mean or awkwardly nice. When she gets a device that enables her to "speak" for the first time in her 11 years, people are shocked that she is like anyone else. And not ready to accept it.

Melody is a delightful, observant girl. Her physical challenges and pure intellect enhance her other senses - she sees, smells, and hears things that the rest of us don't notice. She also has a real gift for reading people, enhanced unfortunately by people's negative interactions with her. She finds enjoyment in life but also is, understandably, incredibly frustrated. I can almost physically feel Melody's frustration, her "tornadoes", with her. The difficulties of not being able to express yourself are unimaginable.

I think every child should read this book. Preferably with a parent or teacher to discuss as the book goes along. Draper does not sugarcoat Melody's life. She is blessed with parents, a neighbor, and some teachers who love her dearly, understand her, and fight for her. Her mother is a true hero. But she also experiences hate and ignorance that no child should have to go through - from other kids, from doctors, and from teachers. The story is often heartbreaking as Melody is let down repeatedly. But her innate sense of self and her loving family also keeps her strong.
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Format: Hardcover
Eleven-year-old Melody is in a wheelchair and she cannot speak; therefore, people have always assumed that she is mentally retarded, although the opposite is true. She has a photographic memory, so her knowledge base is vast. When she is finally given the gift of language through the intervention of her caregiver and a school worker and can express herself, her intelligence is revealed.

I loved Melody's voice and her courage, and her first-hand experience of how difficult it is to be different in middle school. Because the whole story is told "out of her mind," it is very readable (and a little humorous), and didn't feel heavy, though a sympathetic and merciful reader will feel sad for Melody, especially when she experiences a big disappointment -- as my 12-year-old daughter did -- much more so than her tough mom. For me, because I had related to her so much, instead of focusing on the disappointment, I rejoiced with her in her triumphs, and the trial seemed not something that was necessarily a result of her disability, but rather typical middle school posturing.

Highly, highly recommended for both adults and 10 - 13 year old readers.
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