I'm going to admit from the start that because I read Wonder and Out of My Mind at nearly the same time last summer, it's very hard for me not to compare the two in my head, especially when I'm thinking about reviewing them. I will also admit that I prefer Wonder to Out of My Mind, which is not to say that I didn't find a great deal of merit to Out of My Mind. In fact, I would actually recommend that everyone read both because I find both books to be critically important to middle graders, who can sometimes be a short-sighted, cliquish group.
Out of My Mind tells the story of Melody, who has a brilliant mind and photographic memory despite the cerebral palsy that leaves her mute and unable to control most of her muscles. Although her parents seem to understand, to some extent, that she is intelligent, her doctors and teachers treat her as if her mental faculties are akin to her physical ones. Being unable to communicate effectively drives Melody out of her mind...until she is awarded a device that allows her to finally speak.
Draper does a fantastic job of giving Melody a voice. Her struggles and frustrations are apparent and understandable. I appreciated that the author's bravery in allowing an event to happen to Melody that was not easily resolvable. Often times in children's literature you find the main character on the cusp of a negative event, and suddenly, they overcome. This is fantastic in some cases, but life does not always follow that sunshine and roses pattern. I did have a few problems with Out of My Mind: the teachers were horrific, the children's language seemed stilted at times, and the near-tragedy at the end seemed forced. Despite these few misgivings, I did highly enjoy Out of My Mind, and my children loved it. They actually begged me to read it each day. I think we finished it less than 5 days.