{Review} OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper--Now Celebrating 2 Years as a NYT Best Seller!

OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper was one of the earliest books I reviewed as a blogger. I still think fondly of it and talk about it ALL THE TIME with kids, parents, and teachers. I still think it's an important, valuable book, one that should be in EVERY classroom library.

When I saw this ad on my Facebook Feed last week, it made me so happy:

I decided to bring this old review out of storage--especially because with WONDER by R.J. Palacio still a Best Seller---AND about to be a movie--kids WANT more books like it! So give them the amazing OUT OF MY MIND, okay? ^.~

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

   I’m surrounded by thousands of words. Maybe millions. 

Cathedral. Mayonnaise. Pomegranate. 
Mississippi. Neapolitan. Hippopotamus. 
Silky. Terrifying. Iridescent. 
Tickle. Sneeze. Wish. Worry. 

  Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes—each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands. 
  Deep within me, words pile up in huge drifts. Mountains of phrases and sentences and connected ideas. Clever expressions. Jokes. Love songs. 
  From the time I was really little—maybe just a few months old—words were like sweet, liquid gifts, and I drank them like lemonade. I could almost taste them. They made my jumbled thoughts and feelings have substance. My parents have always blanketed me with conversation. They chattered and babbled. They verbalized and vocalized. My father sang to me. My mother whispered her strength into my ear. 
   Every word my parents spoke to me or about me I absorbed and kept and remembered. All of them. 
   I have no idea how I untangled the complicated process of words and thought, but it happened quickly and naturally. By the time I was two, all my memories had words, and all my words had meanings. 
   But only in my head. 
   I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old.

(pg 1-2 US hardcover edition)

This review was first posted at ABS on April 30, 2010.

“Everybody uses words to express themselves. Except me. And I bet most people don’t realize the real power of words. But I do. Thoughts need words. Words need a voice..”


OUT OF MY MIND was first recommended to me by a co-worker. The story is lovely and breath-takingly fragile. I wept, I laughed, I felt for the main character, Melody (and everyone else with disabilities like hers). Draper really found a way to emotionally involve readers in her story.

The novel centers around a ten-year-old girl named Melody. She's really smart, has a photographic memory...and no one knows. Everyone thinks she is retarded and has no capacity for learning. Melody has a very severe form of cerebral palsy. She can't walk, talk, or properly move her arms. Her parents still have to spoon-feed her. Poor Melody has to suffer through special education classes at school where the teachers treat the kids like infants and they are constantly relearning the alphabet and simple math. It drives Melody crazy because she's such a smart girl.

When Melody is almost eleven, she finds out about a special computer specially designed for people like her. It's programmed to talk at the push of a button. Slowly, Melody is able to demonstrate just how intelligent she is, which makes everyone around her second-guess everything they thought they knew about people with disabilities.

This book will change you. You'll never think about people with disabilities the same way again. Melody is so brave and strong despite the odds stacked against her. I absolutely couldn't put this book down and rooted for Melody all the way through. In fact, this almost feels like the type of book Jodi Picoult would write for children. It has that same delicate aura to it, the same intense look at hot-button issues, the same surprising twists and turns.

The book's title, OUT OF MY MIND, is wonderful; it describes Melody and her situation perfectly. She is literally going out of her mind with boredom. She is trapped inside herself. The cover image of the fish jumping out of the bowl suits both the title and a scenario that occurs inside the book and was just the right choice.

If you're looking for something deep and meaningful, check out Draper's amazing book. I hope more students will pick up this title as well; it will really make them think twice before teasing their less capable peers in the future. I would love to see this in every single Classroom Library and be Required Reading for all students! It's that good.

I read this six years ago, so I don't remember....

...BUT it's middle-grade, so it can't be all that bad!

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I like how the cover tries to emphasize going out of one's mind the best way it can: With a fish jumping from its bowl.

It's startling and different and makes you do a double-take!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Sharon Draper
Release Date: Out March 9, 2010
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers  // Simon & Schuster
Received: Purchased


Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom - the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged because she cannot tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she's determined to let everyone know it - somehow. 

 In this breakthrough story, reminiscent of THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, from multiple Coretta Scott King Award-winner Sharon Draper, readers will come to know a brilliant mind and a brave spirit who will change forever how they look at anyone with a disability.