Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wonderful Reviews for Out of my Mind. Thank You!

I can't remember the last time I was so emotionally overwhelmed by a middle grade novel. Sharon Draper's new novel is the story of Melody, a 10 year old girl with Cerebral Palsy so severe that she can neither speak nor move independently. Trapped inside Melody's uncooperative body is a brilliant mind with a cutting wit.
Melody is relegated to a classroom of special needs kids because she can't communicate what is going on in her head. Her world suddenly opens up when she gets a computer with a voice program that allows her to speak for the first time. Unfortunately, the rest of the school is not ready to accept Melody.
I was silently cheering for Melody while I read this book as I sat at my kitchen table. The conversations she has with her parents and caregivers about being different are gut-wrenching. Melody knows exactly how she is perceived by other kids and adults, including teachers. The conversations between Melody's parents as they contemplate the birth of their second child moved me to tears.
This is more than a book about a girl with special needs. It holds up a mirror for all of us to see how we react to people with disabilities that make us uncomfortable.
I encourage everyone to read this.
Susan Aikens, Kids Book Buyer from Borders Head Office

What would you do if you could not make yourself known, if you had thoughts you could not speak? That is narrator Melody Brooks's plight:
"By the time I was two, all my memories had words, and all my words had meanings. But only in my head," she writes. "I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old." This is her story, and also the story of a loving family and their devoted neighbor, who help Melody along on her path to say what she needs to say.
Sharon Draper (Copper Sun; Forged by Fire), who herself has a child with cerebral palsy--though she explicitly states that this is not her daughter's story--inhabits the brilliant, frustrated mind and unresponsive body of this child. This is the kind of book--like Terry Trueman's Stuck in Neutral or Harriet McBryde Johnson's Accidents of Nature--that makes readers aware of their own biases, and of what a great disservice those biases do to human beings whose outer trappings belie an extraordinary intelligence within. Draper's book is distinctive for the way she traces Melody's journey and her attempts to communicate from as far back as she can remember. In often poetic language, Melody describes how early on she "began to recognize noises and smells and tastes. The whump and whoosh of the furnace coming alive each morning.
The tangy odor of heated dust as the house warmed up." The author smoothly structures the book in a way that builds suspense while also creating a fuller picture of Melody's daily life. One chapter discusses obstacles from the medical community. At age five, Mrs. Brooks takes Melody to a doctor who says that Melody is "severely brain-damaged and profoundly retarded." Mrs. Brooks defends Melody's intelligence to him ("She laughs at jokes... right at the punch line") and, in another chapter describing Melody's life at school, stands up to a teacher who also underestimates her daughter's mental acuity.
A turning point occurs during one of Melody's daily after-school stays with next-door neighbor Mrs. Violet Valencia ("Mrs. V"): she and six-year-old Melody happen upon a documentary about Stephen Hawking.
"Melody, if you had to choose, which would you rather be able to do--walk or talk?" asks Mrs. V. "Talk. Talk. Talk," Melody answers, by repeatedly pointing at the word on her communication board. This begins Melody's quest to find the tools to express herself--first with word cards she makes with Mrs. V, then with phrases and, finally, with an electronic Medi-Talker. Melody takes charge of her own education and her means of communication. She thrives in her "inclusion classes" with the mainstream students academically, but is not accepted by them socially.
Even the most compassionate classmate can fall to peer pressure, as Melody learns on the brink of her greatest achievement on the Whiz Kids quiz team. Melody sees clearly the challenges before her, and it is the source of her greatest heartbreak but also her greatest inspiration.
It's impossible to close this book without thinking about the world differently.--Jennifer M. Brown


  1. I loved your book, great touching story.

    Thank you

    My blog


  2. Hadn't heard of your new book. I'll have to add it to my summer reading list.

  3. What a great book. I wlii have to buy it. Please add my e-mail address to get your blog. Thank you. Susan steveac@bellsouth.net

  4. Crazy book Lover H.LSeptember 27, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    Loved this book it rocked i almost felt like i was there now whenever i got nothing to read i pick up that out of my mind and the suspense still kills me whens the next one coming out

  5. Wow. Touching moving and much different than anything I have ever seen before. Recommend by a friend and I'll recommend it to anyone else.

  6. I love your book Romietta and Julio. I was so touching yet sad.

  7. Hello Sharon,

    I hope this message finds you well. I'm editing a YA short story fiction anthology on the theme of bullying and I’d love it if you'd consider contributing. I tried to send you more details via your contact page, but I keep getting an error when I try to send my original message.

    Is there another way to contact you? I hope to speak to you soon. Your voice would be a wonderful edition.

    Rhoda Belleza
    Editor of Cornered

    twitter: @rhodabee

  8. Sharon-I have CP, and I know your daughter has CP. I'm always on the lookout for positive books about people with disabilities. I loved _Out of My Mind_... until the end. Can you please give me some insight about why you ended the book that way?

    1. she ended it that way to sow that people dont accept changes that easily

  9. Mrs. Draper,

    I didn't know that you had written a new book. I will be on my way to get it soon. I found out about it on goodreads.com. It says you aren't an author member and I was wondering if you would consider becoming a member. There are plenty of old Walnut students who actively use the site, and I am sure we all would love to see you become a member. Think about it. I would love to have you become a member so I can follow more closely what you are writing.

    I don't mean to comment anonymously but I can't figure out how to add my email to the comment. Thanks so much for instilling a love of reading in my heart! You were an inspiring teacher and wonderful mentor!
    Gina Niesen (class of 93)

  10. can somebody tell me what the conclusion is please

  11. Dear sharon,
    I hate reading your stupid books in school. Stop trying to make me feel bad for African-Americans becasue they were slaves 200 years ago. Whats past is past and there is nothing we can do accept move on.

  12. What an amazing book!! The first chapter is pure poetry and the character an inspiration. Thanks for opening my eyes a little more. I reviewed the book on my blog at http://mariahoagland.blogspot.com/2012/01/review-out-of-my-mind-by-sharon-m.html.

    I look forward to reading more of your books!

  13. didnt the turning point occur when she was 10 in 5th grade with her aide Cathrine

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  15. Hello, Ms. Draper!
    We are implementing this book as a summer read for our Upper School students and would love to have you come and speak; however, I have tried to contact you via the "schedule me" form on your website and the link is dead. I can complete the form, but then I am sent to a white page that says "error in submission. Message: Form Value Error Code: 88028." I tried to send you an e-mail and the same thing happened.
    Can you help. We would LOVE to have you-- and we are VERY close!
    Margo Fisher-Bellman
    Nativity School

  16. I loved reading this book. You did a really good job showing the emotions Melody went through.

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