I would argue that the main theme of Out of My Mind is living with disability. Eleven-year-old Melody was born with cerebral palsy and has required assistance with daily tasks her entire life. She is an intelligent child who naturally becomes frustrated with not being able to do things for herself. This frustration is common among many people living with cerebral palsy and is showcased powerfully in this novel, especially when Melody sees her younger sister positioned behind the wheel of their mother’s car and is unable to alert anyone to the danger.
The impact of technology for disabled people is another prevalent theme. When Melanie is in the fifth grade, she gets a type of computer called a Medi-Talker, which vastly improves her ability to communicate with others and opens up a world of possibilities.
A third theme is people’s varying attitudes toward disabilities. While Mrs. V. constantly encourages Melody and teaches her skills that make her as independent as possible, others—such as Mr. Dimming and Melody’s classmates—consider her incapable of performing well. As a result, she sometimes becomes the object of teasing and ridicule. Mr. Dimming’s disappointing attitude is further showcased when he, together with Melody’s classmates, decides not to let Melody know that they need to catch an earlier flight to the national competition. However, the classmates do redeem themselves later by giving Melody the trophy that they won in her absence.
A final theme that I will mention is tenacity. Even after her teacher and classmates have intentionally left her behind, Melody still chooses to go to school the next day. Throughout the novel, she is seen as a child determined to make the most of every opportunity in spite of her disability.