Out of My Heart

Ten years ago I was teaching 3rd grade, and reading as many the middle grade books I could fit in.  I was trying to stick to the “book-a-day” challenge that I had accepted and  I wanted to put as many great books as I could find into the hands of my students.  Out of My Mind was highly recommended and when I read it, I thought it was  an amazing gift.  What a book!

Out of My Mind shares the story of Melody Brooks, born with Cerebral Palsy, navigating her way through the ups and downs of public school.  She can’t walk, talk, or feed herself.  She cannot always control her body and how it moves, but she has a photographic memory and she is SMART.  In addition, music adds color and aroma so her life and this only adds to what she knows and understands.  Communication is a challenge and that’s all the other kids see – the teachers too.

Her parents know there is more to Melody than others understand.  Mrs. V. – their neighbor and sometimes Melody caretaker – knows Melody has much to share.  She encourages her to read and learn about everything she can.  When she takes a qualifying test for the school’s Whiz Kids team she gets a perfect score.  She joins the team and helps them win the state competition that will send them to the Nationals in Washington D.C.   The Whiz Kids ditch her though and Melody is left wondering if she will ever find a way to fit in or discover her own place in the world.

There is so much more to this story – I could go on and on, but I’ll stop and suggest you read it to find out for yourself.  I hope, just like it did with me, that it will stay with you for a very long time.

The beauty of reading Out of My Mind now, is that you can follow that reading closely with Out of My Heart.  In this book summer vacation has just begun.  Melody is interested in discovering if she might fit in better with others from the disabled community.  She wonders how would it be to be surrounded by other kids who struggle to communicate, move and meet the many challenges and expectations most of us don’t even consider as we go about our day to day living.  With the help of Mr. Francisco, the librarian, Melody discovers there are some overnight camps designed just for kids like her.  She studies the brochures and websites closely before asking her parents if she can go.  After much soul-searching, they decide to apply.  It takes a long time to complete the application.  After all there are a LOT of safety considerations, but it seems as if Camp Green Glade has them all covered while offering swimming, boating, zip-lining, horseback riding and a whole host of other activities. Once the application is submitted they wait – sadly the camp is full and Melody won’t be able to attend unless there is a cancelation.

Read Out of My Heart to find out what happens.  It is an emotional ride – heartbreaking, heartwarming, terrifying and funny.  Melody is an amazing human being.  I have been changed by her and her story.  I think you will be too.

Happy Reading! 📚

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