Module 7 Realistic Fiction
Out of My Mind
by Sharon Draper
Melody is an eleven year old girl with no way to express herself. She has cerebral palsy and she cannot talk or walk. Fellow students, teachers, and doctors mistakenly assume she is mentally challenged. Despite all the emotional pain of such judgement Melody never lets her disability limit her goals. She pushes herself to learn and with a little help she finds a device to enable her to communicate. Melody begins to excel in an academic achievement group, but not everyone can except her for the wonderfully clever and brave girl she is.
Draper, S. M. (2010). Out of My Mind. New York: Atheneum Books.
My Impressions of the Book
Out of My Mind is an emotional read. Draper captures the emotions of heartbreak, triumph, and love and allows the reader to join in as Melody makes a place for herself when so few believed in her. Melody’s mother champions her daughter whether she faces negative medical experts, uninformed mentors, or hurtful people, she is always there for Melody. The combination of personal success and a loving family unit make this book a must read for everyone.
-Born with cerebral palsy, Melody, 10, has never spoken a word. She is a brilliant fifth grader trapped in an uncontrollable body. Her world is enhanced by insight and intellect, but gypped by physical limitations and misunderstandings. She will never sing or dance, talk on the phone, or whisper secrets to her friends. She's not complaining, though; she's planning and fighting the odds. In her court are family, good neighbors, and an attentive student teacher. Pitted against her is the "normal" world: schools with limited resources, cliquish girls, superficial assumptions, and her own disability. Melody's life is tragically complicated. She is mainly placed in the special-ed classroom where education means being babysat in a room with replayed cartoons and nursery tunes. Her supportive family sets her up with a computer. She learns the strength of thumbs as she taps on a special keyboard that finally lets her "talk." When she is transitioned into the regular classroom, Melody's undeniable contribution enables her class to make it to the national quiz team finals. Then something happens that causes her to miss the finals, and she is devastated by her classmates' actions. Kids will benefit from being introduced to Melody and her gutsy, candid, and compelling story. It speaks volumes and reveals the quiet strength and fortitude it takes to overcome disabilities and the misconceptions that go with them.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY
Follos, A. (2010). Out of My Mind [Review of the book Out of my Mind, by S. M. Draper]. School Library Journal, 156.
Ideas for Library Use
As anti-bullying campaigns continue to help students accept one another I feel this book would be ideal for an anti-bullying challenge.
by Laura Halse Anderson
Lia loses her friend Cassie after they make a pact to be the skinniest girls in school. Even after Cassie dies Lia cannot shake the need to lose weight. She counts every calorie she allows herself to consume. Despite her mother’s insistence to see a therapist Lia still manages to manipulate others into believing she isn’t losing weight. Only in her journal entries does Lia allow herself to be completely honest with her hunger and self hate. It isn’t until she understands the harm she is inflicting on her family, primarily her stepsister that Lia decides to rethink her actions.
Anderson, L. H. (2009). Wintergirls. New York: Penguin.
My Impressions of the Book
Wintergirls is an eyeopening novel into the world of eating disorders, from calorie counting to “thin girl” support sites. Melody’s drive to be thin dominates the novel, but by doing so it illustrates the all consuming need for her self inflicted hunger and pain. Her journal entries show just how badly she struggles with her thoughts with slashes eliminating her most negative thoughts. No matter how many concerned family members show melody support, it is Melody who must decide she needs to care for herself again. It is a moving and detailed cautionary tale.
-The intensity of emotion and vivid language here are more reminiscent of Anderson's Speak (Farrar, 1999) than any of her other works. Lia and Cassie had been best friends since elementary school, and each developed her own style of eating disorder that leads to disaster. Now 18, they are no longer friends. Despite their estrangement, Cassie calls Lia 33 times on the night of her death, and Lia never answers. As events play out, Lia's guilt, her need to be thin, and her fight for acceptance unravel in an almost poetic stream of consciousness in this startlingly crisp and pitch-perfect first-person narrative. The text is rich with words still legible but crossed out, the judicious use of italics, and tiny font-size refrains reflecting her distorted internal logic. All of the usual answers of specialized treatment centers, therapy, and monitoring of weight and food fail to prevail while Lia's cleverness holds sway. What happens to her in the end is much less the point than traveling with her on her agonizing journey of inexplicable pain and her attempt to make some sense of her life.-Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library
Edwards, C. A. (2009). Wintergirls [Review of the book Wintergirls, by L. H. Anderson]. School Library Journal, 96.
Ideas for Library Use
It is my hope that readers will take in the novel and discuss Lia’s choices and then learn from those decisions. With that in mind student reviews for Wintergirls could be submitted digitally or in a drop box to allow for complete anonymity.