Children's Books discussion

Out of My Mind
This topic is about Out of My Mind
91 views
Fiction Club Archive > May '18 Selection - Out of My Mind

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine | 160 comments Please join us in reading Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. This is the tale of Melody who has cerebral palsy. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy T | 12 comments I look forward to reading it as it’s another book I’ve been tempted to pick up over the past few months.


LauraW (lauralynnwalsh) | 127 comments I voted for this one, because I had already read it and getting hold of some of the others was problematic. I had some hesitations about the book, though, and look forward to discussions about them. How does this thread feel about spoilers?


message 4: by Manybooks (last edited May 04, 2018 01:51PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Manybooks | 8814 comments Mod
I really liked the book when I read it a couple of years ago. I do wonder though in retrospect if at least some of the more negative teachers are just a bit too stereotypically bad. More later after rereading.

And the same goes for the psychiatrists (the psychiatrist who suggests that Melody be placed in an institution and forgotten by her parents, that sounds more akin to how individuals with CP and the like were approached in the 40s, 50s and 60s and I do at times wonder at the actual time period that Out of My Mind is supposed to be set in, as it does, my enjoyment of Melody's voice notwithstanding, seem as though Draper has combined contemporary and not so contemporary scenarios to leave a story that feels both modern and oddly strangely dated).


message 5: by Manybooks (last edited May 03, 2018 03:32PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Manybooks | 8814 comments Mod
(view spoiler)


Rachel | 1 comments Manybooks, I agree with many of your misgivings. The ending, especially, bothered me as it just seems so random and jarring. The sad fact is, at least in the US system where I taught, I have heard teachers completely misunderstanding students with differences and being extremely negative.

Perhaps to add some real life context, I wonder if anyone has seen the Youtube and facebook videos from Special Books for Special Kids (SBSK). Chris, a former special education teacher, travels the world and interviews people who are living with differences and in many cases rare disorders that are not widely understood. Chris's videos and interviews are thoughtful and kind and allow each person to share their story in their own way.

I found my opinion of the book was different after watching some of the interviews with people living with similar situations as Melody.
Keen to hear other readers' thoughts.


message 7: by Manybooks (last edited May 04, 2018 08:18PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Manybooks | 8814 comments Mod
Rachel wrote: "Manybooks, I agree with many of your misgivings. The ending, especially, bothered me as it just seems so random and jarring. The sad fact is, at least in the US system where I taught, I have heard ..."

The ending just feels so tacked on, as though the author simply wanted some extra "excitement" (and yes I do agree that there are likely many teachers who completely misunderstand students with challenges, although I still think that Sharon M. Draper has too many either shining or black as pitch teachers).


Manybooks | 8814 comments Mod
Rachel wrote: "Manybooks, I agree with many of your misgivings. The ending, especially, bothered me as it just seems so random and jarring. The sad fact is, at least in the US system where I taught, I have heard ..."

I will have to check out these videos. Just curious, did your opinion of the book become more positive or more negative after watching the interviews featuring students in a similar situation as Melody?


message 9: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy T | 12 comments I actually really enjoyed this book as I appreciated Melody being written as a strong and mentally independent character instead of a pity inducing victim. I didn’t feel like the ending was tacked on, but I did have a hard time believing that the team, being kids, fessed up to their actions the way they did. Most kids that age, even when called out on their actions, get defensive or just stay quiet altogether. I also found that the teacher, Mr. D, was rather flimsily written. First he disregards Melody altogether, then he tells the class how he underestimated her and then values her, then he makes lame excuses for not contacting her about catching the earlier flight for the national competition. I felt his character should have been written one way or the other; that he either had misgivings about her throughout the entire book or stayed loyal to her after admitting he had underestimated her.


Manybooks | 8814 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "I actually really enjoyed this book as I appreciated Melody being written as a strong and mentally independent character instead of a pity inducing victim. I didn’t feel like the ending was tacked ..."

On the other hand, I have actually had teachers who were as wishy washy as Mr. Dimminger.


message 11: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy T | 12 comments Yes, I got to thinking about that, too. I suppose he could be wishy washy like that, but I question if it would have been a stronger book if he was consistently written one way or the other. I was thinking it might have been interesting had Mr. D, after realizing Melody’s intellect and value, became her advocate for the rest of the story. He would have set a really good example for the rest of the team as well as for Melody and other kids with special needs.


message 12: by Manybooks (last edited May 12, 2018 12:35PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Manybooks | 8814 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "Yes, I got to thinking about that, too. I suppose he could be wishy washy like that, but I question if it would have been a stronger book if he was consistently written one way or the other. I was ..."

Yes, that sure would have been nice, but Mr. Dimminger really and obviously was not that kind of a person and in fact, actually condoned and perhaps even kind of encouraged the bullies (for in my opinion, Mr. Dimminger is aside from Claire and Molly, the one person in Melody's "integration" class who is the most negative or at least the most potentially negative, and he likely was also more than happy to leave Melody behind). I mean, at least Rose had the grace to feel guilty and cry about what she did, about what happened at the airport. Sure, Mr. Dimminger might have publicly proclaimed that he had underestimated Melody, but I really do think he actually was still rather ashamed of Melody's physical challenges, and I also believe that Mr. Dimminger actually even right to the end did not really consider Melody as an acceptable quiz show candidate, for if he had, he would not have permitted Melody to be left behind, he would have made sure that she was contacted even if the students did not want her there.


message 13: by Manybooks (last edited May 13, 2018 05:45PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Manybooks | 8814 comments Mod
In retrospect, it was great when Melody got ELVIRA, her "talking" computer and told her parents that she loved them. However, considering that prior to ELVIRA, Melody had a pretty extensive word board that she could point to, why was the expression "I love you" not on said board? Or since Melody has a liking for fast food, why was there not the words for hamburgers, fries, milkshakes and such on the board, as that would have allowed her to point to this when she wanted to go out and get a hamburger and could not make her father understand?


message 14: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy T | 12 comments All of those are really strong and astute points. I, too, questioned whether or not Melody had “I love you” on her board as well as fast food items. Maybe it was simply a case if not having enough room for everything, that the board would be too big. Even if “I love you” was on the board and Melody had said that to her parents prior to getting Elvira, I’m thinking her parents got emotional because to hear it coming from Elvira was like actually hearing Melody’s first words. She could have said anything, but Melody knew the importance and gravity of the moment and selected her words very methodically and carefully. I think her parents knew this, and considering all that the family had been through with tediously trying to bridge the communication gap over the years, I’m guessing there was also relief as well as joy knowing that talking with each other had finally become easier.


message 15: by Manybooks (last edited May 17, 2018 09:27PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Manybooks | 8814 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "All of those are really strong and astute points. I, too, questioned whether or not Melody had “I love you” on her board as well as fast food items. Maybe it was simply a case if not having enough ..."

I agree that actually hearing the computer speak is of course different for Melody's parents than just reading the words.


message 16: by Anne (new)

Anne Buster | 1 comments I read the book with my 10 year old. He loved it and I did too. It reminded him of Wonder in that it is about a child with physical limitations but is really about the experience of being a kid who feels different, making it universally accessible. It helped my son think about the abilities of the special education kids at his school, since his school practices inclusion.

As to the ending I didn’t think it was tacked on, as some have mentioned. I thought it was important to show the frustration of not being able to communicate when the stakes are high. It’s not just not being unable to say when you have a craving for a burger - it’s being unable to articulate at urgent times that shows how intensely frustrating a condition like CP is.

Also Special Ed or SAI teachers are usually amazing people but like any group of teachers there are always some in the mix who underestimate kids and think talking down to them is necessary. I didn’t find it unrealistic, after all even the “good” teacher had the kids watching Tom and Jerry for hours on end, occasionally. I did think Ms. V was rather saintlike and that Melody had an emotional maturity that seemed a little unbelievable for any 10 year old, particularly one that had limited communication abilities in her early years. That said it was a good read and most importantly enjoyable to the target reading group. The title is on my sons’s 6th grade summer reading list.


back to top