I HEARD THE NOVEL “Out of My Mind” as a read-aloud in Mrs. Eklund’s class. Now I’m reading it to my mother.
Based on the author’s own daughter, it’s about this girl, Melody Brooks, who has cerebral palsy. She can’t speak or walk. She can only move her thumbs.
Everybody thinks Melody doesn’t know a lot but she’s actually very intelligent. The book explains her troubles through fifth grade. She’s alone with her thoughts and feelings. Then she gets a computerized device called a Medi-Talker that she can use to help herself be understood.
For the first time she can communicate by voice. She makes friends.
The author says on her website that she didn’t want anyone reading the book to feel sorry for Melody because she wanted to make Melody an unforgettable character — someone to cheer on. She also said she wanted her readers to think people are more alike than different. And what it’s like to be handicapped.
We know a lot about Melody because the book is written from her perspective, in the first person. She really likes country music. Her favorite song is “Elvira,” by the Oak Ridge Boys. Her name is musical, too. This was a good detail.
The book made me think of how smart people can really be, even if they’re in a wheelchair — and it made me think badly about how so-called “normal” people can treat people in wheelchairs. I don’t do this but I have seen it happen.
The cover of “Out of My Mind” shows Melody’s goldfish, Ollie, leaping out of his bowl. We discussed this in class. Melody had felt badly for Ollie because he was swimming in circles, doing the same thing, every day, and then it finally jumped out of the bowl. I think the book is called “Out of My Mind” because Melody is relating to the fish: She’s in her mind; she can’t say her thoughts. She can’t speak.
I think that when the fish jumped out of the bowl she sympathized.
Mrs. Eklund is a very good reader. Our class really liked hearing this story, and we were sad when on certain days we missed it. We were also very sad at certain parts of the story, because Melody’s situation was sad, and then things changed. I admire Melody for having gone through everything she did.
This novel is good for kids and adults. Read it.