Book Review, Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper Recommended for middle school through junior high, or ages 10-14 Please note: this book is already in the Pageturner library but requires a request be submitted by a student of any other class in order for additional purchase(s) to be made.

“I have no idea how I untangled the complicated process of words and thought, but it happened quickly and naturally. By the time I was two, all my memories had words, and all my words had meanings. But only in my head. I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old. 
“I can’t talk. I can’t walk. I can’t feed myself or take myself to the bathroom. Big bummer. My arms and hands are pretty stiff, but I can mash the buttons on the TV remote and move my wheelchair with the help of knobs that I can grab on the wheels. I can’t hold a spoon or a pencil without dropping it. And my balance is like zip—Humpty Dumpty had more control than I do.” --excerpt, Chapter 1
Welcome to Melody’s world.  Melody is a brilliant girl with both photographic and autobiographical memory, meaning she remembers everything she sees and everything that’s happened in her life.  Cerebral palsy and its concomitant loss of physical abilities, however, have hampered her from birth. She endures being relegated to the “handicapped” class, where ignorant teachers can--and occasionally do--spend months sounding out the letter “B.” Although their pupils’ learning abilities are all over the map, her public school has no money to spare except to lump them all together. In this book, we soon learn that even physicians who should know better sometimes treat disabled children as throwaways. (The doctor who does that in this novel will make your blood boil.)
Cerebral palsy is a disease most often affecting the fetus in the womb, although it can emerge any time in the first two years of life. There is no cure for CP (although some children with mild symptoms may grow out of it). Medical science is not sure what causes it, except that at some point there is a loss of oxygen to the brain, impacting the basal ganglia and/or cerebellum. There are people in all walks of life and careers who are quietly managing their CP.
Although there is some correlation between the loss of motor functions and learning disabilities, a person with cerebral palsy can have perfectly normal intelligence.  They also have normal life spans. Although she is a fictional character, in this novel Melody is blessed to have loving parents who never give up trying to get her the best possible care.  Her mother, a nurse, knows she’s smart, as she can see how Melody laughs at jokes. Her father never uses baby talk with her.  And the amazing woman next door, also a nurse, refuses to coddle her, either mentally or physically, as she cares for her during her mom’s workday.
At some point the family learns of a laptop that can be uploaded with thousands of sentences; it has 8 different voice tones that can be used to speak for the user and is even more sophisticated than Stephen Hawkings’ own, as it has a printer! It takes months of filing and refiling insurance applications, but eventually Melody is able to “talk” for the first time in her life, even using a girl’s voice; the laptop fits on her brand new motorized wheelchair and presents all sorts of new opportunities. After studying hard with their neighbor, Melody tries out for the “regular” school’s 5th grade team competing to show their knowledge of general subjects, from history to math. In the previous year, the team had made it all the way to the semi-finals in D.C., and this year they’re looking forward to winning it all. Melody scores higher than all the other entrants and is accepted to the team, despite the teacher’s obvious reluctance.  
On live TV for the first, local competition, Melody’s high score gives the team a win and a green light to continue to the next levels. The newscasters and TV reporters focus almost exclusively on Melody; her photo alone appears in the local newspaper.  Melody basks in all the attention and is very proud of her achievements.
Soon the team qualifies to compete nationally in D.C., and everybody is thrilled.  Melody is over the moon--and hopes to meet the First Lady!  When she gets to the airport with her mother, however, they learn that bad weather has stranded all planes in every direction.  They won’t make it to D.C. in time.  Then they learn the team had breakfasted together early and left without them. In her absence, her only so-called friend along with the rest of the team had unanimously decided that Melody should not attend the nationwide challenge. She had unintentionally sucked the air out of their own need for attention, and this was payback.  Apparently, the teacher was ok with it, too, his later apology reeks of pathetic self-vindication. (When Melody learns how complete this breach of trust was, I actually cried a little.)
Without Melody, the team had limped along to a crushing 9th place finish, winning only a tiny plastic trophy with the school’s name misspelled.  You’ll cheer for Melody as she responds to her former teammates’ betrayal--and you’ll celebrate her heroism in trying to prevent a tangentially related family trauma, as well. She may have uncontrollable “helicopter arms,” as she calls them, but her courage is a lesson for us all. What we can discern on the outside, whether or not an individual is disabled, may be only the smallest part of the person inside-- and the whole person deserves respect.
This book is one of 50 listed by the New York Public Library as the best recommended books for teens.  It has won many awards: Josette Frank Award (2011), Buckeye Children's Book Award for 6-8 (2011), Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award for Grades 6-8 (2013), Vermont Golden Dome Book Award Nominee (2012), New Mexico Land of Enchantment Award for Young Adult (2013), California Young Readers Medal for Middle School/Junior High (2013), Washington State Sasquatch Award (2013), Bluestem Book Award (2013), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children's Books (2010), Intermediate Nutmeg Book Award (2014), Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award Nominee (2013), لاک‌پشت پرنده Nominee (2016), Premi Protagonista Jove for Categoria 12-14 anys (2014)