Saturday, December 28, 2013

Out of My Mind, Sharon M. Draper

Out of My MindWords. I'm surrounded by thousands of words. Maybe millions.

"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, because Melody 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."

Out of My Mind is a middle grade book that one can still enjoy later; at times it was annoying, but at others really moving. It certainly was intensely readable, and I raced through it. Melody has quite a compelling voice and style of narration, and at times the book was quite heartbreaking, particularly when Melody is trying to communicate something important but can't. The adults and other kids around her are constantly misunderstanding her because she can't speak her mind. There's that one scene with the goldfish, and Melody's mom blames her even though it wasn't her fault; it was quite infuriating, and probably even more frustrating to Melody herself.

Yes, this book was rather cheesy, but it was slightly better than Counting For 7's; at least it was a  more impressive book in terms of its ambition. That said, the tone was rather odd at times, the way that Melody and the other people around her interacted and spoke. Some of the fifth graders didn't really speak like I imagine fifth graders would. Also, much like A Mango Shaped Space, I find it unlikely that only in fifth grade would Melody and her parents want to start researching machines that could help her talk. I realize it was brought on by having classes with the "normal" kids, but I would think that she would have wanted to research various technologies earlier.

I liked Out of My Mind, but I had one main problem with it: nothing much happened for a while. Melody was just kind of introducing all the people she knew, and her life. That was fine, but it seemed to take up too much of the book. Then, for a while we had a kind of summary of her school life like "I went to history. I went here. I went there. I did this". It seemed rather uninteresting, yet despite it I kept on reading. The same thing happened with the Whiz Kids competition; it felt like the author was just listing the questions and the things Melody did in a kind of bland, uninteresting way, taking a long time and then suddenly realizing she was doing it and speeding up again.

And then there was the last section, in which a lot happened all of a sudden. I'm not going to spoil it, but the events were quite shocking, almost too much so. The last event felt rushed, odd, and out-of-place, but it was a compelling novel in spite of its flaws. It definitely changed how I view people. As one might expect, Out of My Mind ends on a hopeful note despite all the setbacks, and I liked the ending.

Out of My Mind was certainly an emotional read; I was very invested in Melody's joys and her sorrows throughout this short but sweet book. I have no delusions about its greatness or how long it will be remembered, but this is still a fun and interesting book. I'm sure it's affected a lot of people positively.

295 pages.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment