"Out of My Mind" by Sharon Draper

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. 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.