Instead I read this.
Here's the good, the bad, and my personal reaction.
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
SUMMARY: Melody has cerebral palsy, so she can't move herself around the room, can't hold her head up straight, and can't speak except for the stickers on her communication board. Melody doesn't mind too much, because she has great parents who understand her when no one else would, who sing to her and share with her like she's mostly normal. Everyone else thinks she's an idiot.
But Melody is beginning to understand that she's probably smarter than even her parents know--she has a photographic memory, and has been learning, absorbing information her entire life. It's simply impossible for her to share that with anyone. Even when her school starts running an "Inclusion Class" program that brings the disabled kids from Melody's group into normal classrooms around the school, where Melody makes an almost-friend named Rose, Melody realizes it isn't enough. She has more to share. And it's starting to drive her crazy.
Between the always-enthusiastic attitude of her neighbor Ms. V, and her personal school aide Christine, they come up with a solution: a device called the Medi-Talker that allows her to play pre-programmed messages out loud. For the first time ever, Meldody is able to talk. And it's just in time for the Whiz Kid quiz team championships at school. Suddenly, Melody has a chance to really show the world how smart she is. Not everyone is going to accept her, and not everyone is going to want her to do well. But Melody's been underestimated her entire life: It's not going to stop her now.
REVIEW: This story does an incredible job of portraying what it would be like to live with, and be, a severely disabled child. Melody is such a great character. She has an amazing mental ballast and manages to learn despite the way most people treat her. At the same time, you can't blame her for being more worried about upsetting the kids at school rather than wooping them academically. She has to deal with being disabled, as well as being a genius. Her story is so personal, so true, that it makes you want to cry at times, and laugh at others with her simplicity.
This isn't an enormous story. Sometimes I felt a little dragged down in the blow-by-blow details of Melody's life. At other times, I found myself wondering how on earth people knew Melody so well and understood what she wanted/needed/was feeling. I kept waiting for Melody to bust out her Medi-Talker and really give people a piece of her mind, which after all her talk about needing to communicate, felt like it was due. This never actually happens until the very end.
Really though, those were minor distractions. Everything else moved at a nice clip. More than once, I found myself wanting to cry with frustration for Melody, especially about Ollie, the airport scene, and the climax in the car. Speaking of which! Holy cow! Everything about the last four chapters or so was such an intense ride, and those final pages were perfect.
I really enjoyed this book. Definitely worth the read. 4 stars.
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