Title: Out of My Mind
Author: Sharon M. Draper
Publisher: Recorded Books, 2010 (print available from Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010)
Narrator: Sisi Aisha Johnson
Melody knows thousands of words. She is pretty sure she has a photographic memory, and she has synthesthesia—to her, music has color and taste. But even though she's 10 years old, no one in her life knows any of this. She has never spoken a single word in her life and has no way of communicating to her teachers, parents or anyone else. Melody has cerebral palsy, making it impossible for her to move or speak.
Sharon Draper brings us inside Melody's mind in this novel, told from Melody's own perspective. Her struggles, frustrations, and pain grabbed hold of my heart while I listened to Sisi Aisha Johnson's lovely narration. I became really invested in Melody and her family. I got angry when people treated her poorly, I got frustrated when people couldn't figure out what she wanted, I got sad when she knew she'd never be able to tell her parents with her own voice that she loves them. When bad things happen to anyone she loves, I got sad and sick with her. Often after I shut off the car to go to work, Melody's story stayed with me and I wondered what would happen to her when I finally returned to the story.
But ultimately, this is a story of survival and of hope. There is help for Melody, and she and her family do their best to get it. Melody begins to integrate into the regular schoolrooms, not just in the special education classroom, and begins to be challenged in her schoolwork for the first time. And finally, she finds a way to communicate better than she ever has in her life, leading to a whole new set of challenges for her.
Johnson does a wonderful job narrating. She sounded like a young girl, giving distinct voices to the different characters in Melody's life. She gives Melody a voice full of yearning and anger and sorrow and hope.
Out of My Mind not only is a great book to read if you're looking for the perspective of someone physically disabled, whether you use it in a classroom or suggest it to a library patron, it also is just a great book to read, period.
Disclosure: I checked this audiobook out from the library.