Out of My Mind


Out of My Mind is a novel by Sharon M. Draper, a New York Times bestselling author.[1] The cover illustration of the fifth edition is by Daniel Chang, and the cover photography is by Cyril Bruneau/Jupiter Images. A reading group guide is enclosed. The book is recommended for ages 10 and up and for grades 5-8. The story was written in first person, featuring Melody Brooks, a girl with cerebral palsy.


Melody Brooks is an eleven-year-old girl who was born with Cerebral Palsy. Her parents have done everything they can to help her live a normal life, but life is often frustrating for Melody since she cannot speak, move, or communicate her wishes. As a result, Melody has to fight to get her wishes. At age five, Melody is even diagnosed as profoundly retarded. Despite this, Melody's mom enrolls her in Spaulding Street Elementary school to get the education she needs. However, the class she is put in is like a baby class, learning the same things every day. Melody is frustrated by this. Her neighbor, Mrs. V., is a kind, but tough woman. She pushes Melody to do the best she can. When Melody was three, Mrs. V. wasn't impressed for Melody to rely on her parents for everything. Because of this, Mrs. V. forced her to learn how to crawl and roll on the ground. She even taught Melody how to catch herself whenever she fell from her wheelchair. These things helped Melody become self-sufficient, but she continues to be reliant on her parents to help feed her and help her go to the bathroom. When Melody turns eight, her mother becomes pregnant. During this time, Melody overhears them talking about the new baby and their fears that it will suffer the same disabilities. Melody feels ashamed when she hears this. However, Melody is happy when the baby, Penny, is born perfectly healthy. Melody feels jealous as Penny grows and matures since she'll never be able to do the things Penny can do. However, Melody loves her little sister, and the pleasures Melody brings to her parents. When Melody enters fifth grade, she gets a communication device that allows her to talk with other people. At school, her new teacher starts an inclusion program that allows the special needs students to participate in the standard classes. Melody also gets an aide, Catherine, to help her. Melody befriends Rose Spencer, but is bullied by Molly and Claire, who believe that Melody's disability makes her dumber than them. Even her teacher, Mr. Dimming, believes that Melody cannot participate, but is surprised that not only does Melody join, but passes a test exam of a trivia competition with a perfect score. When he tells his class that if Melody can ace it, he is giving way too easy questions, Melody works with Ms. V in order to win the real tryouts, which she does so with a perfect score. Melody then helps the team win the qualifying competition to earn a trip to Washington D.C. for the national competition. However, on the day the group is to fly to Washington, Melody learns that her flight has been canceled due to weather, but that the rest of the team has made an earlier flight without her. Melody insists the day after the fiasco on going to school, but her mom's dismal attitude causes her to accidentally run over Penny despite Melody's attempts to warn her mother. Melody blames herself for not being able to inform her mom, even though everyone, especially Mrs. V., tells her it's not her fault. Although Melody is terrified that Penny will have a brain injury like her and be like her, she learns that Penny is going to be okay, and just has a cast on her leg. On Monday, Melody's class also apologizes for their lack of being considerate towards her by giving her their ninth place trophy, hoping to reconcile with her. However, Melody just laughs at them and destroys the trophy by accident and says "no you take it" and heads out of the room. The next day, she and Catherine begin work on Melody's autobiography, which begins with the first few lines of the book.


The cover shows a goldfish jumping out of a bowl. This cover represents Melody going out of her mind when being stuck in her head so long. The goldfish represents Melody, and the bowl symbolizes her mind.

There is also a scene in the book where Melody watches her pet goldfish jump out of the fish bowl to freedom. The cover of the book is both literal and a metaphor for how Melody feels trapped in her mind.

Awards and achievements
  • New York Times Bestselling Novel for nine weeks
  • Over 18 months on the New York Times Best Seller List
  • Winner of the 2011 Bank Street College of Education Josette Frank Award
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of 2010
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of The Year
  • The Virginia Readers' Choice Reading List for 2011-2012
  • A Parents' Choice Silver Honor Book
  • Texas Bluebonnet Award 2011-2012 Master List [2]
  • Essence Magazine Book of the Year
  • A 2011 Notable Children's Book in the English Language Arts
  • Top 10 Book of the Year for Shelf Awareness
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choice of 2011
  • 2011 IRA Teachers' Choice Book
  • 2011 IRA Young Adult's Choice
  • Buckeye Children's Book Award from Ohio
  • Sunshine State Young Reader's Award in both the middle school and elementary categories
  • Black-eyed Susan Book Award
  • Beehive Book Award
  • Featured in the July 9 issue of Time Magazine
  • Featured in the July issue of Ladies' Home Journal
  • On the Indie National Bestseller List
  • Receiver of the SAKURA Award
  • A NCTE Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts[3]

Critical reception has been positive and seen as a well-written novel. Out of My Mind has received reviews from The Denver Post, The Columbus Dispatch, Publishers Weekly, Children's Literature, Washington Post, The Horn Book, and The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. The novel received starred reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus Reviews praised the book was "rich in detail of both the essential normalcy and the difficulties of a young person with cerebral palsy", and "descriptions of both Melody’s challenges—“Going to the bathroom at school just plain sucks”—and the insensitivities of some are unflinching and realistic".[4] Publishers Weekly criticized that there was a "lack of tension in the plot", although it was "resolved halfway through".[5] Booklist stated that Out of My Mind is "a book that defies age categorization, an easy enough read for upper-elementary students yet also a story that will enlighten and resonate with teens and adults".[6] The Bulletin said the novel "[Will make] students think twice about their classmates, acquaintances, and siblings with special needs".[3] The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania) stated "Draper challenges those who read her story to become activists for those who are different".[3] The Denver Post powerfully concluded: "if there's only one book teens and parents (and everyone else) can read this year, Out of My Mind should be it."[7] VOYA Magazine praised "Melody's triumphs and setbacks as she strives to become a socially accepted classmate and team member are vividly described in this inspirational novel, which will appeal not only to middle school readers but also to anyone who wonders what might be going on in the minds of individuals with severe physical handicaps". The Horn Book exclaimed that the novel is "a powerfully eye-opening book with both an unforgettable protagonist and a rich cast of fully realized, complicated background characters".[8] Children's Literature said "this is a genuinely moving novel". The Washington Post commented "author Sharon Draper creates an authentic character who insists, through her lively voice and indomitable will, that the reader become fully involved with the girl in the pink wheelchair".[3]

  1. ^ "Sharon Draper: Biography". Sharon Draper,. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "Texas Bluebonnet Award 2011-2012 Master List" (PDF). Texas Library Association. Retrieved 16 April 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Sharon Draper Author Page: Out of My Mind Reviews". 2014 Sharon Draper. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "Kirkus Starred Review:OUT OF MY MIND". 22 December 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Publishers Weekly: Out of My Mind". PWxyz, LLC. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  6. ^ Frances Bradburn. "Booklist Review: Out of My Mind". 2014 Booklist Publications. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Claire Martin (7 March 2010). "The Denver Post: Children's Books". 2014 The Denver Post. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Horn Book (Bookverdict): Out of My Mind". Media Source Book Verdict 2012. 1 March 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 
External links
  • Out of My Mind School Project
  • Sharon Draper Author Page
Preceded by Runaway Twin Mark Twain Award 2013 Succeeded by The Unwanteds

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