Out of My Mind: Book Summary & Setting

Instructor: J.R. Hudspeth

Jackie has taught college English and Critical Thinking and has a Master's degree in English Rhetoric and Composition

Author Sharon Draper's book 'Out of My Mind' takes readers into the mind of pre-teen Melody Brooks, whose cerebral palsy causes people to underestimate her awareness and abilities. Read on for a short discussion of the book's story and setting!

'Out of My Mind'

Sharon Draper's book Out of My Mind, written in 2010, is based on Draper's experience in working with children who are disabled, including her own daughter. Draper wanted to write a book so that readers would know how much that people with disabilities share with those who do not have disabilities.

Meet Melody Brooks

Eleven-year-old Melody Brooks was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age. Cerebral palsy causes the brain to develop inefficiently, which means that Melody cannot move or speak effectively, though she is quite intelligent, artistic, and a good learner. However, because she cannot communicate clearly because of her cerebral palsy, people who meet her misunderstand her. They don't know that she thinks and feels exactly as they do; they think that she lacks awareness of what goes on around her and is unable to learn very much.

Melody, like the young lady in this photo, has cerebral palsy. This makes movement and communication difficult for Melody.
CP patient


Melody is frustrated. She has been diagnosed as mentally deficient and told she cannot learn effectively, so she is stuck in a class that covers easy material every day that is far below Melody's level. However, Melody's family supports her as best they can, and Melody's neighbor Mrs. V understands that Melody is a good learner; she teaches Melody life skills and encourages her to learn as much as she can. However, Melody's frustration mounts as she spends her days in a school where the teachers treat her as though she had the mentality of a very young child and the students ignore or dismiss her, she increasingly struggles with being trapped inside of a body that cannot communicate her thoughts and feelings.

Miss Communication

During Melody's fifth-grade year, she is given a computer that helps her communicate with people more effectively. The good news is that this leads to Melody being integrated into classes with students her own age. However, the kids in her classroom are dismissive of her intelligence at best, and often are mean and taunt her for having cerebral palsy. Even the teachers don't really believe that Melody is bright because of her physical appearance. However, Mrs. V continues to encourage Melody, and Melody does not give up on proving her intelligence.

Eventually, this pays off for Melody. She competes to be on a school quiz team and aces the exam that the students take as a way to choose members for the team. The only problem is that no one believes that she is intelligent enough to have passed the exam. However, Melody takes another exam to be on the team, and she aces this one as well. Melody is accepted onto the team, and she is quite proud of herself for proving that she can achieve as much as any other student in the classroom.

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