This book impressed me before I read it. Some of my students read it this year and they really liked it. I was curious about how it kept their interest, because I knew the narrator has cerebral palsy, can't talk, and is basically stuck in her own head. And let's face it, I really wondered how the author managed to get 4th graders to identify with Melody, the narrator, a special needs student.
Kudos to Sharon Draper for doing all that. We experience Melody's suffocation without feeling so trapped we put down the book. The story moves along and includes realistic changes and ups and downs. Again, I'm impressed. I'm even thinking of using this book with a unit about the human body, because some of Melody's body systems are affected by cerebral palsy, others aren't, and I think the book could inspire some great discussions about what it basically means to be human.
Now, I've read some of the objections. I don't have firsthand experience with anyone who has cerebral palsy, and as I read Out of My Mind, I did have my doubts about Melody's abilities. I read some 1 star or 2 star reviews by others who have experience with cerebral palsy and had serious doubts that this portrayal was realistic. I think that discrepancy is fine though, if it is in fact a discrepancy, because it opens the door to discussion and understanding. Perhaps too, Melody is an ideal case, extremely lucky to have had adults who encouraged her by reading aloud to her and talking to her, as Draper describes.