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Out of My Mind


Out of My Mind Cover




Chapter 1

It usually took the New Kids two weeks to dump me, three weeks at the most. Melanie Prince-Parker was the quickest. She moved from West Hartford to Willingham when we started eighth grade. I couldn’t make her sit across from me for more than five minutes of lunch, and at the end of the first week I spotted her in the middle of the popular girls’ table.

I wanted to know how she did it.

I wanted to be Melanie Prince-Parker.

I used to watch her at lunchtime, first sitting at a table on the same side of the cafeteria, then moving closer and closer until one March day I set my tray at a corner of the table where the popular girls always sat.

The girls instantly stopped talking. Melanie scraped her chair back and stood. I lowered my gaze but could feel her glare on my face.

Without a word, Melanie pushed my tray from the table.

I jumped backward. The clatter of plastic on tile broke the silence. The tip of the apple pie stuck out from an edge of overturned plate. Oily tomato sauce spread from a pile of sloppy joe toward the bun that rolled away. Wilted lettuce curled up next to the pale green tray.

Kids surrounded me, shouting. Voices rose from the cho­rus.

Ooh, snap!

What was she thinking?

You don’t do that, sit anywhere you want.

That’s retarded.

So weird.

Look, she’s crying again. Crybaby Kiara!

Crybaby Kiara!

Through blurry eyes, I stared at my trembling hands. A clear droplet splashed on my wrist, but I hadn’t heard my­self crying with all the noise, the kids laughing.

Anger surged from the pit of my empty stomach. My ears burned. I had a right to sit where I wanted. This wasn’t kin­dergarten where they assigned seats in the lunchroom.

I picked up the tray.

For a moment, I caught Melanie’s eyes. Scary eyes. Deep brown irises. My mind flashed to my mother’s eyes, what they looked like whenever I made Mami mad. Melanie wore black eyeliner like Mami too.

I hadn’t seen those eyes since Mami left last month.

I raised the tray above me, a batter waiting for the pitch.

Melanie placed her hands on her hips and opened her mouth. Her soprano harmonized with the chorus around me.

“Don’t be stupid, Kiara. Put the tray down.”

I swung.

I swung at the light brown face that contained those evil eyes. The tray slammed into her face. Shock waves vibrated in my arms and spread to the rest of my body. I let go of the tray. It bounced on my foot before hitting the tile with a thud.

Laughter turned to screams. Melanie’s nose spurted blood. Past her lips, down her chin, onto her pink sweater.

Then somebody’s huge arms locked around me and car­ried me away.

Away from the cafeteria—and out of that school.

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

AMS, January 6, 2012 (view all comments by AMS)
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Colleen Perez, January 2, 2012 (view all comments by Colleen Perez)
Yes, this is young adult fiction (but so is "The Hunger Games"), but I have to say it is the best, most surprising story I've read all year. The main character has more "voice" in her mind than most characters do aloud. You see, the main character has cerebral palsey; she cannot walk, feed herself, or talk. However, the readers are privy to her thoughts and boy does she have thoughts. The story focuses on Melody and what she goes through being a person with disabilities. Don't feel sorry for her, though, because trapped in a body that doesn't behave the way she'd like lies a genius, really. Melody goes to school, interacts with peers ( the good and the bad) and learns what kind of person she is capable of being. Actually, everyone else learns what kind of person she really is; she already knows. Susan Draper creates a story full of voice from a person with no traditional voice, and along the way events occur that shape this into a non-predictable story. I'm usually not too surprised when it comes to young adult fiction, but Draper threw a couple of curveballs at me. Maybe I was just so engrossed that I didn't see it coming, but I was surprised by some of the turn of events. Besides the obvious, this story really enlightens the reader as to a world that most of us will never encounter. I've recommended it to many of my elementary students, but I've also insisted that my adult friends read it as well.
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kryptique, September 21, 2011 (view all comments by kryptique)
Wow!! This book was amazing! The main character has basically been trapped in her less than functional body for years, with a brilliant mind and many thoughts, but is only now beginning to be able to communicate with others through technology. At its heart, this book depicts the main character as nothing more nor less than a teenager, despite all the differences and frustrations and challenges. I love that Draper does not attempt to turn her character into someone to be pitied nor worshiped, but that she shows her humanism and similarity to other teens. Her character makes mistakes, gets angry, tries her best to be a good person but sometimes falls short. A fascinating and at times tearjerking read.
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Product Details

Draper, Sharon M.
Atheneum Books
Miller-Lachmann, Lyn
People with disabilities
Interpersonal Relations
Social Issues - Special Needs
Family - General
Situations / Special Needs
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction-Special Needs
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction
Situations / Friendship
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 5
f/c jacket (matte lam w/spot UV)
7 x 5 in 10.71 oz
Age Level:

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Related Subjects

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Children's » Situations » General
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Special Needs

Out of My Mind New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$17.99 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Atheneum Books - English 9781416971702 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Melody Brooks, in a wheelchair and unable to speak, narrates this story about finding her voice. The first half of the book catalogues Melody's struggles — from her frustration with learning the same preschool lessons year after year to her inability to express a craving for a Big Mac. Draper, whose daughter has cerebral palsy, writes with authority, and the rage behind Melody's narrative is perfectly illustrated in scenes demonstrating the startling ignorance of many professionals (a doctor diagnoses Melody as 'profoundly retarded'), teachers, and classmates. The lack of tension in the plot is resolved halfway through when Melody, at age 10, receives a talking computer, allowing her to 'speak.' Only those with hearts of stone won't blubber when Melody tells her parents 'I love you' for the first time. Melody's off-the-charts smarts are revealed when she tests onto her school's quiz bowl team, and the story shifts to something closer to The View from Saturday than Stuck in Neutral. A horrific event at the end nearly plunges the story into melodrama and steers the spotlight away from Melody's determination, which otherwise drives the story. Ages 10–up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Uplifting and upsetting, this is a book that defies age categorization, an easy enough read for upper-elementary students yet also a story that will enlighten and resonate with teens and adults....[T]his moving novel will make activists of us all."
"Review" by , "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."
"Synopsis" by , From a multiple Coretta Scott King Award-winning author comes the story of a brilliant girl that no one knows about because she cannot speak or write.
"Synopsis" by ,

Kiara has Asperger’s syndrome, and it’s hard for her to make friends. So whenever her world doesn’t make sense—which is often—she relies on Mr. Internet for answers. But there are some questions he can’t answer, like why she always gets into trouble, and how do kids with Asperger’s syndrome make friends? Kiara has a difficult time with other kids. They taunt her and she fights back. Now she’s been kicked out of school. She wishes she could be like her hero Rogue—a misunderstood X-Men mutant who used to hurt anyone she touched until she learned how to control her special power.

When Chad moves in across the street, Kiara hopes that, for once, she’ll be able to make friendship stick. When she learns his secret, she’s so determined to keep Chad as a friend that she agrees not to tell. But being a true friend is more complicated than Mr. Internet could ever explain, and it might be just the thing that leads Kiara to find her own special power.

In Rogue, author Lyn Miller-Lachmann celebrates everyone’s ability to discover and use whatever it is that makes them different.

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