Out of My Mind
by Sharon M. Draper
This author clearly has the background to be writing for teens. She has received a number of awards already. In addition, she is a high school English teacher so is exposed to her intended audience regularly. She has also been a teacher of the year.
This deeply moving novel for preteens and teens tells the story of Melody. What a beautiful name for a bright girl who, among other things, cannot speak. But Melody hears and absorbs and has a deep inner life that is not diminished by her physical limitations. She narrates the story and in doing so demonstrates a gorgeous ability to express herself. Early on, Melody lets readers know that music is important to her. She comments on lullabies, harmonies and a “painted musical sound track play background to my life.” Melody know that her Mom likes classical music while her father enjoys jazz. Melody, herself, likes country music. Her musical sense also seems influenced by synesthesisa. So, readers know early on that there is a sound track to Melody’s life.
Right from the start of the story, readers know that there will be a kind of disconnect between Melody’s inner world and what those around her perceive about her. Her inability to make herself known makes Melody so real. She is not always happy, can be frustrated and is in no way a martyr.
Spend time in her world, readers. You will see those around you differently by the time that you finish this luminous book. And, watch to see how Melody’s life changes by the end of the story. (no spoilers)
This title seems perfect for a book club for adults and children, for school discussion or just for a perfect read. The lessons of the story are not too heavy handed but they seem so important. Highly recommended.