Step into her wheels

Review: Out Of My Mind
Author: Sharon M. Draper

“What would you do if you could fly?” Mrs. V asks as she glances from the bird to me.
“Is that on the quiz?” I ask, grinning as I type.
“I think we’ve studied just about everything else,” Mrs. V chuckles.
“I’d be scared to let go,” I type.
“Afraid you’d fall?” she asks.
“No. Afraid it would feel so good, I’d just fly away.”

Some people can’t walk, others can’t talk, and most can’t fly. Enter Melody, a young girl who can’t do any of these things. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age and since then she has been faced with more obstacles than she can count. The book, Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper, doesn’t shy away from the challenges of cerebral palsy.

I think that for someone who doesn’t know a lot about cerebral palsy, this book is brilliant. When you’re reading it you will realise how many things you really take for granted. Small things, like telling your friend their outfit is cute, or choosing what you want to eat for breakfast. I’m sure that there will be medical professionals who will find details that are incorrect and loopholes to jump through but for an entertaining beginners guide on cerebral palsy this book is excellent.

I don’t want to say that all Melody is is her diagnosis. “[A] person is so much more than the name of a diagnosis on a chart.” Melody is smart, funny, kind, and brave. If she didn’t have cerebral palsy she would still be all of these things, but her circumstance bring out the best and worst in her.

Some other characters seem to be hyperbolised versions of themselves. School bullies that have no back story, doctors who are rude for no reason. A whole bag of clichés thrown into the novel. I can understand why they are there though, they represent the many people who stand in the way of children with disabilities. They represent the judgmental glances on the street, and the patronising smiles. But I think that these characters could have been shown in a way that wasn’t so unforgiving.

The writing of the novel is perfectly designed for young readers. Or perfect for a parent reading to their children. Simple and straightforward. Even though the writing is simple, Draper still manages to sneak in beautiful moments from inside Melody’s head.

As Christians, this novel preaches the message to stop taking our bodies for granted and to be understanding. So many people in the story reject Melody just because of her circumstance, she didn’t choose to have cerebral palsy, so why would we choose to reject her? So the message is clear, love your neighbour. Try to step into their shoes, or wheels, and see how the world might look from their perspective.

Out Of My Mind is perfect for a quick read, you may cry but it’s not an inevitable tear jerker. I personally loved that the ups and downs of having a disability were not sugar coated, and Melody was also not perfect. One overarching message which I think is particularly important is this,  “We all have disabilities. What’s yours?”

Susannah Cornford




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