Opening to this post #2: I finally read a book and have a review to share! What with the Vice Presidential Debate on last night, and me just hating the drama, I actually carved out some reading time, and whipped through Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Let's discuss.
Melody is a child with cerebral palsy, so her body doesn't work like other people, but her mind is actually very sharp. She instantly absorbs and retains anything that she is told and has an amazing memory, but due to her physical disability, she is stuck in a classroom for special needs children with teachers that don't understand her. Once she is finally included in regular classes, it shown that she is very bright and once she gets a Meditalker, she is really able to shine. So much so that she becomes a star on the school's Whiz Kid team. But all of that success brings some negative attention as her classmates still do not see her as a normal girl and think that she is being given an unfair advantage. But Melody is stronger than anyone knows and she is determined to be heard.
Time to dig deaper.
First, let's talk about that cover. When Melody was a little girl, she had a goldfish that jumped out of the bowl and died, but she felt like that goldfish probably felt just as trapped by that bowl as she feels trapped in her body. Wow-that cover just sums it all right up.
The strengths of this book are pretty obvious-everyone is fighting a battle, and you need to look deeper to truly understand a person. I really did like how honestly Melody reacted to everything. She worked hard, she got angry, she persevered. And even she got to know her own classmates in H-5 a little better because of her experience of not being understood. I think the biggest lesson that this book teaches is that you need treat everyone, regardless of appearance or ability, with respect. It definitely made me think more about the special needs children in my life and how I interact with them.
And this book is heartbreaking. Melody works so hard with the Whiz Kid team, and she's come so far in communicating, but she still feels left out. Then she truly is let out and that's hard on the whole family, but I honestly think that the way she handled it in the end was pretty clever and true to life. Good for her.
However, this book got a little heavy handed. There is an accident toward the end that really has nothing to do with the true plot. It did feel like a cheap attempt to add more drama, when that was not at all necessary. Also, the scenes involving the mean girls, Claire and Molly, seemed a little strange. I can entirely believe that children would say some of those horrible things to another child, but for Melody's aid Catherine to come back at them with junior high level insults all the time was just strange.
All that being said, I still think this is an excellent book. Melody's narration rings very true and her journey is inspiring. This would make a great classroom read aloud and would hopefully lead to some good discussion.