Out of My Mind Sharon M. Draper
While One Crazy Summer is still my Newbery favorite, this came really, really, really close to knocking it off it's 1st place pedestal. Also, Mockingbird was my favorite for the Schneider and not anymore.
BUT! How awesome is it that we have multiple strong contenders for the Schneider family award that are also very strong contenders for the Newbery?
Anyway, Melody has severe cerebral palsy. She's confined to a wheel chair. She can't dress herself or feed herself or go to the bathroom without help. At the age of 11, she's never spoken a single word.
Melody also has a photographic memory. She's been diagnosed as severely retarded because she's actually extremely gifted. When she was diagnosed, it was one of those tests that gifted kids also fail because they overthink it. Which of these is not like the other? Tomato, cherry, red balloon, banana? Balloons aren't food, so that's the "answer" but... bananas aren't red and round. Melody knows what the answer is "supposed" to be, but the doctor's a jerk so she won't play his game.
The students at school won't look at her. Her special ed teachers fail her over and over again. And she's trapped and has no way to let people know that she's trapped.
It's beautifully written and heartbreaking. I liked how Draper told a realistic story instead of an overly heart-warming one. I thought it was going the mushy heart-warming route (and I was cheering for it) and then BAM! Draper changes it and... wow.
I also loved Melody's occasional anger, how she gets jealous of her baby sister who can do all the things she'll never be able to do. I loved her loneliness and how she longed for a real friend to share secrets with at recess. But the girls who eventually talk to her still distance themselves from her in public. And Melody notices this and knows what it means. Melody's such a great character and Draper shows us all her depth and it's such a good book.
Gush gush gush gush gush gush gush gush gush.
Book Provided by... my local library
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