Out of my Mind: A Book Review

Out of my Mind is a young adult novel written by New York Times bestselling author Sharon M. Drapor. The short, fast-paced novel make it a suitable read for all ages. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Jumma)

Out of my Mind is a inspiring, raw and heart-warming book written by Sharon M. Drapor, New York Times best selling author. The highly rated book is narrated through the voice of Melody Brooks, an intellectually brilliant child who’s bright ideas are confined by her mental illness, her inability to walk and talk, and her wheelchair. Disabilities aside, Melody’s mind is filled with words, sounds and just about everything else she’s ever heard. Yet her inability to express her thoughts leaves her depressed and unwilling to pursue a life a child of her caliber should.

Out of my Mind is loosely based on the authors’ experiences with her own daughter, which fabricates a raw, honest and emotional journey that leaves the reader in an abyss of emotions.

The book begins when Melody is child, and her parents realize that their daughter is incapable of grasping toys and sitting up on her own. Melody later recalls the frustration she felt, and the heartbreak of watching her father’s eager face (whilst recording her for certain developmental milestones every child goes through), turn to disappointment. Despite her physical limitations, Melody understands how brilliant she is by watching a PBS special on genius children; she realized she was able to memorize everything she read, saw, or heard.

Life at school for Melody is complicated and frustrating because she is confined to the same room, year after year. Melody constantly expresses how the bright yellow-painted walls are “babyish” and how she dreams about leaving the 5-H classroom to interact with normal kids on the playground.

Having a child with special needs is often difficult for parents because they might not always have the time and energy to provide for their child’s every need, especially after Melody’s little sister is born. Mrs. V, Melody’s next door neighbor, is a vital character in Out of My Mind, because she gives Melody opportunities that allow her to step out of her comfort zone, and develop a foundation for social skills.

The book takes a turn when Melody starts fifth grade with Mrs. Lovelace, who believes in inclusion classes, where students with disabilities sit in classes with normal kids. Melody is beyond thrilled as she knows most of the students from watching them on the playground. Although all the students are in the same class, Melody understands that she is still not fully integrated in her school community.

In the inclusion classes, Melody meets Rose, a smart and hardworking girl who is kind to Melody. As their relationship grows, Melody learns the values of a friendship, and gets a glimpse into the world of a normal child.

Melody’s life changes when her parents order a Medi-Talker for her: a computer that speaks for her. The Medi-Talker allows Melody to interact with kids her age, and give them a glimpse of her intellect. With the ability to speak, Melody tries out for her schools WhizKids team, gaining skepticism from her teacher and many of her peers. With the help of Mrs.V, Melody lands a spot on the team, leading them to victory in at the Southwest Ohio Regional Competition.

However, in spite of proving herself a valuable member of the team, Melody never feels truly accepted. A heartbreaking turn of events leave Melody devastated, but are vital for Melody’s development as a person. The events allow Melody to gain a new respect for her peers, and a better sense of what’s most important to her; her family.

Out of my Mind is a fast paced book that captures Melody’s emotional journey of finding her voice, and allows the reader to step into Melody’s shoes and experience the hardships of having a disability. The raw book contains countless powerful messages, such as the importance of family, and finding your identity, that make it a hard to put down read. Out of My Mind is an easy read, and puts a unique spin on the coming-of-age story that people of all ages can enjoy.

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