Those Who Feel Invisible
Out of My Mind grabs the reader with the opening pages. Melody has severe cerebral palsy and although she is a gifted prodigy in her mind, few know because she cannot walk, talk or even use the bathroom without assistance. So in her special education classes she is treated as if she is mentally handicapped as well.
The story is a running stream of consciousness inside her wonderful brain. And we see that besides having a mind like a sponge, Melody longs for the same things that any pre-teen wants -- to share music and humor, frustration and gossip, to be pretty, to be included. But this is almost impossible when all most people can see is a girl in a wheelchair with spastic movements who might drool or make startling noises and motions when excited.
With the support of the family and a few caretakers who can see the person inside her, and finally the arrival of a new Medi-Talker device, Melody finally has the voice for real communication. And despite prejudiced and non-welcoming attitudes, she takes on the opportunity to try out for the school Whiz Kids state championships, a showcase for the brightest students. If the team wins they go on to a televised final and a trip to Washington D.C. Melody wants more than anything to help the team win and to participate without being an embarrassment.
And so this a book difficult to put down until the finish. The way to the finish is never easy nor predictable. This is a memorable novel which reminds us to always look beyond the surface of those who are visible only as a wheelchair or person with any other number of differences which we may not see, or care to see. This book would make excellent family or reading circle discussion material for young adults up to any age. Sharon Draper is a two time Coretta Scott King Award winner, as well as the author other of other award winning books of note. She is a voice for insight into other cultures, as well a fine novelist at any level. To learn more about this the author look here.