Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper tells the story of Melody Brooks, an intelligent eleven-year-old girl who was born with Cerebral Palsy. Through first-person point of view, we learn about the struggles that Melody faces being unable to speak, move, or communicate her thoughts and wishes. When she is only five years old, a doctor diagnoses her as profoundly retarded and recommends her parents place her in a nursing home. Instead, her parents enroll her in an elementary school. However, Melody becomes frustrated by being in a special class and learning the same things over and over again.
When Melody is eight years old, she learns that her mother is pregnant. Despite her parents’ fears about having another disabled child, the baby is born perfectly healthy. Although Melody loves her little sister, she is also jealous watching her grow and mature, since Melody will never be able to do the things her sister can.
When she is in fifth grade, Melody is given a device to help her communicate with other people. Her teacher also starts a new program allowing students with special needs like Melody to be included in standard classes. Although some of the students, and even the teacher, do not believe Melody is able to keep up intellectually with the other students in the class, she surprises them all by passing trivia exams and helping her trivia team make it to the national competition.
On the day of the competition, the flight is delayed due to weather, but the rest of the team is able to make an earlier flight without Melody. The next day, on their way to school, Melody notices her younger sister is in the way of the car, and her mother doesn’t notice. She kicks, screams, and yells, but it is to no avail. Her sister is hit and injured, and Melody feels it is her fault, since she wasn’t able to warn her mother.
At school, the trivia team gives Melody the trophy from the national competition in hopes of reconciliation. She forgives them but ruins the trophy. The next day she works with her aid to write an autobiography, which turns about to be the book we are reading.
Through her experiences, Melody learns that in general, people underestimate talents that those with disabilities possess. Although she tries to fit in with her peers, she also learns that she will never be the same as them, but that is okay, as long as she has people that love her for who she is.