In what ways did Out of my Mind fulfill the conditions necessary to be considered young adolescent realistic fiction?
Out of My Mind is considered to be part of a genre of literature that is called Realistic Fiction. Unlike stories that contain magical characters and talking animals who participate in an adventure type story, realistic fiction is exactly what it means. It is a novel that is meant to be written from a realistic point of view including people and events that are similar to real life. Although the characters and their lives are still make believe, as in any fiction novel, they include real principles and lessons that people experience in life. There are different parts that go along with realistic fiction. Factual realism includes actual factual places and people. Draper has stated in interviews that she intentional left Melody and her family kind of vague in regard to her ethnicity and location specifically. This was done to appeal to a larger audience of readers. Another aspect is situational realism. This includes situations that are possible and likely with characters and settings that can be identifiable. An example of this in the story is Melody's situation with her illness and school situation. Emotional realism includes feelings and behaviors that are accurate and believable to others. Such examples are prevalent in the book with the frustration experienced by Melody, her mother, and other characters. Social realism alludes to real-life social situations: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Out of my Mind does a great job of displaying the reality of disabilities. It can be seen in how the teachers view Melody as well as the other students. There is an ignorance that surrounds most people when it comes to how to respond to someone with a disability. Also, there is the positive outlook of a few, precious people. Contemporary realism not only follows all of these criteria, but also gives a modern, current day view of the issues at hand. For instance, in Melody's situation, she is beginning to be incorporated into a "normal" classroom. She also gets a modern medical device to help her communicate. These are all real-life and current examples in the novel. Last and certainly not least, this novel can be defined as a problem novel. These realistic stories are usually told in a first-person point of view or in a diary form. These stories often shed light on a contemporary problem in society and can be synonymous to a contemporary fiction. All in all, even though this is a fiction novel, it feels like you are getting an inside look at a real little girl who is facing real life problems that exist in our world. It gives readers a sense of empathy towards students just like Melody in our own world. Stories like this are phenomenal to help give insight to students as well as adults on real life issues.
How would Melody's life had been different if she had been born in the 1980's or before?
Regardless of the technology available today, there are still many obstacles that children/students with cerebral palsy face. This is mainly due to the lack of complete understanding of this disease. Fortunately, there is avid research going on to further comprehend cerebral palsy and how to treat its symptoms. Specifically, in the book Out of My Mind written by Sharon Draper, Melody faces difficulty in communicating with those around her, limitations from her physical movement, and social issues in regard to fitting in. At the same time, it is unbelievable to think of the advancements that have been made for the treatment of cerebral palsy since the 1900's. In the 1980's the growth of awareness was just beginning to climb in this area. It was in the 80's that Freud theorized that in fact, cerebral palsy was not only caused by birth injuries (only 10%). but in most cases, happens during development long before birth. (Birth Injury Guide) Another great advancement that occurred prior to 1980 include when JF Kennedy signed a piece of legislation in 1963 stating that people with mental disabilities could be treated within the community as opposed to being institutionalized. (USA Today) Although there was still much uncertainty surrounding cerebral palsy in the 1980's, it was certainly a better environment than secluding people in an institution. With respect to Melody, her life would have still faced many more challenges in the 1980's. For instance, the equipment she eventually received to communicate would have not been possible. She would have stayed in a mental handicapped classroom trapped inside her mind due to the fact that she had no way to inform others that she could understand and learn just like other students. I also can't help but wonder if her instrumental neighbor, Mrs. V, would have interacted with her in a time with less knowledge surrounding the disease. She may have been afraid of her instead of willing to teach and embrace her. Additionally, her chair and home equipment would have looked a lot different and less updated. Even more sad, if this bright, young girl had been in the 1950's. She would have likely been institutionalized with little to no interaction with instruction or kindness of at all. Although she would still have the ability to think, she would have not had the exposure to teachers to grow her skills. At this time, the biggest advancement for cerebral palsy was two books written by Marie Killiea about her daughter who suffered with cerebral palsy. She later formed and established The National Cerebral Palsy Foundation. (Cerebral Palsy History). All the while, it still was not much to go on for parents and teachers to understand what was going on in the mind of people suffering with cerebral palsy.
The History of Cerebral Palsy. (n.d.). Retrieved September 05, 2017, from http://www.birthinjuryguide.org/cerebral-palsy/history/
Kennedy's vision for mental health never realized. (2013, October 20). Retrieved September 05, 2017, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/20/kennedys-vision-mental-health/3100001/
S. (2017, August 26). Cerebral Palsy History. Retrieved September 05, 2017, from https://www.cerebralpalsyguidance.com/cerebral-palsy/research/history/
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