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1-Page Summary of Out of My Mind
Sharon Draper wrote Out of My Mind, based on her experiences raising a disabled child. It is about 10-year-old Melody Brooks, who has cerebral palsy and cannot speak or move around without a wheelchair. She encounters prejudice from other kids because she is different than them. This book provides an intimate look into the lives of people with physical disabilities.
Melody is a girl who loves music and words. However, she has cerebral palsy which makes it difficult for her to communicate with others. She also cannot control the movements of her body and is confined to a wheelchair. Her parents love her very much but they sometimes do not understand what she wants because of this disability.
When she was young, Melody was cared for by her next door neighbor. Mrs. V taught Melody how to read and communicate with people through a board full of written words and phrases. She also helped her learn to use the computer and prepare for a quiz tournament called Whiz Kids.
Melody’s parents have a second child, Penny. Melody is happy to have a sibling and watches her sister grow up being able to walk, talk, and move around more easily than she can. Melody begins attending inclusion classes at school so that she can be in the regular community instead of special education courses.
At school, Melody receives a personal aide named Catherine. They become fast friends and encourage each other to do well in school. Catherine encourages Melody to achieve her goals, especially when others are critical of her or doubt her abilities. She also helps Melody get a Medi-Talker, which allows her to speak digitally with the help of technology. As a result of this device and Catherine’s support, she does very well academically at school and becomes part of the Whiz Kids quiz team that will compete on television locally. However, even though she is thrilled about being on the team, some people are jealous or worried about how it looks for them to have someone like Melody as part of their team; they insult or ignore her because they don’t understand what it’s like for someone who has difficulty speaking verbally due to disability (in this case autism). This includes one girl named Rose who becomes tentative friends with Melody but doesn’t want anyone else at school knowing about their friendship so she can maintain an image among others at school as “cool”
Melody’s biggest bullies are Molly and Claire. They insult her, mock her for being a jerk, accuse her of cheating on the quiz team test to make it in, and even have their teacher against her because he thinks she can’t do well until she gets a perfect score on practice tests.
Melody leads her team to victory, and many reporters want to interview her. The team goes out for dinner after the event, but they become uncomfortable when Melody’s mother has to spoon feed her. Claire throws up on the floor, yet she isn’t criticized by anyone else in their group. Melody wonders why there is a double standard for how people treat them based on what happened at the national tournament in Washington D.C., where both of those things happened again only with worse consequences than before.
Melody studies diligently for weeks before the national tournament in Washington DC and it turns out that no one bothered to contact Melody’s family about their flight being canceled or even bother telling them until they got to the airport hours later because they all took an earlier flight without telling anyone else which caused everyone who was supposed to be going together (including Melody) not go anywhere at all!