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Literature / Out of My Mind

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Out of My Mind is a book for younger readers about a young girl with cerebral palsy. It was written by Sharon Draper and first published in 2010.

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school—but NO ONE knows it.

Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows. But she can’t. She can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write.

Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice... but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.


You can read some of Draper's thoughts on it, as well as an excerpt from the first chapter, on her website here.


  • Alpha Bitches - Molly and Claire, who delight in making fun of Melody and the rest of the special education H-5 kids.
  • Buffy Speak: When Melody is a toddler, her dad brings her home a stuffed animal. Her parents try to see if she will reach for it, and Mom entices her with this line: "Look, Melody, Daddy brought you a play-pretty." As Melody herself says via narration, what the heck is that?
  • Cool Teacher: Mr. Gross, the first special ed teacher who Melody said was "really great," partially because he encouraged Willy's love of baseball and tried hard to help Jill, whose body is naturally uncooperative, participate in activities. There was also a teacher Melody thought was cool because she let the kids listen to books on tape and experiment with music, art, and real educational tools.
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  • Disabled Means Helpless: Everyone in Melody's life, with the exception of Ms. V, seems to think this to some degree until Melody gets Elvira, her technological speaking device.
  • Downer Ending: One of the worst in children's literature. Occurs when the quiz team gets sent to state. They go out to breakfast together, purposely leaving Melody behind because they figure she'll slow them down since she cannot feed herself. By the time they've finished breakfast, the team's flight is scheduled to leave, which means Melody is left behind and does not get to compete.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics - Math is Melody's one weakness, though it is justified as her being good with pictures and words... not numbers. She is able to do math by creating pictures in her head.
  • Hidden Depths: Because of the severity of her physical disability, many people believe Melody doesn't have preferences, or that she won't care that you don't know them. Some also take the limited expressions of emotions that she can manage, like screaming, as anger or noncompliance. They are shocked, then, to learn that Melody loves caramel-based desserts or candy and lemonade, her favorite music is country, and that she wants to dress in "cool clothes" like her classmates.
    • Actually, all the kids in H-5 have these, as Melody explains. For example, Maria has Down's Syndrome and "has trouble figuring out complicated stuff," but has high emotional and interpersonal intelligence. She also adores holidays. Willy has severe verbal tics, but loves baseball and knows all kinds of baseball stats and facts. Gloria has autism and is mostly silent, but loves music.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Boy, are they. Subverted, then double subverted, with Rose.
  • Mama Bear: Do NOT mess with Melody around her mother. She takes this so far as to snap a special ed teacher's nursery rhyme CD in half (see below) and read Melody's quiz team coach the riot act for leaving her out of the state competition.
    • Mrs. V shows shades of this at the aquarium.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: One of the special education teachers, who "teaches" the kids the same things over and over, plays a nursery rhyme CD ad nauseam, and took six months to move from A to B in the alphabet, because she thought the kids didn't understand what an A was or sounded like. This could also count as Stern Teacher, since this woman truly believes kids in special ed cannot learn, and is very vocal about it.
    • Melody has had another teacher, Ms. Hyatt, who did teach kindergarten to the H-5 kids, but maintains a squeaky, simpering voice and attitude that is far below what most kindergartners would put up with for more than two minutes, let alone older kids.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Melody references making "[her] handicapped face"—as in, assuming a flat, playing-dumb expression—around the doctor her mom took her to, and around anyone who she knows already thinks she's stupid.
  • Precious Puppies - Melody was just ecstatic to get little Butterscotch for her birthday.
  • Genius Cripple / Inspirationally Disabled - Our heroine, obviously. It's the whole point of the book.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Melody's favorite candy is butterscotch caramels, which provide the namesake for her dog. She also says she likes any sweets with caramel in them.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The great escape of Melody's goldfish.


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