“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Every so often, I come across a book that actually changes my life in such important ways that I am forever grateful to the author. And it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as an, Eat, Pray, Love, life change to be significant.
Last year, it was RJ Palachio’s WONDER that had me looking at life through a new lens. And this year, it is Sharon Draper’s beautifully written OUT OF MY MIND.
OUT OF MY MIND tells the story of 11-year-old Melody, who has a photographic memory and is the smartest girl in her class. The problem is, no one knows how deep her intelligence runs because she can’t talk, or walk, or write. Born with cerebral palsy, Melody is stuck inside her own head, until a wonderful discovery allows her to speak for the first time.
Having interacted and worked with people with communication disorders, including cerebral palsy, I have always thought of myself as pretty open minded when it comes to accepting people for who they are. I’m comfortable with wheelchairs, I know how to greet someone by looking at them in the eye – seeing them and not their disability.
But when reading OUT OF MY MIND, I was forced to admit that I had really only been good at being that way in a clinical setting. As I got to know and love Melody, I couldn’t stop thinking about a time that I had run into a child’s wheelchair with my shopping cart (I was so embarrassed!) and I looked straight at her mom to apologize. Why didn’t I apologize to the kid herself?
Right after I finished the story, I was at a picnic with my kids. We were balancing cups of lemonade and full plates as I scanned for a table. I saw a man in a wheelchair pulled up to the edge of an empty table. Instead of smiling and walking on by, I thought of Melody and sat down. We shared a wonderful lunch and a stimulating conversation. I would have missed out on that if I had not read OUT OF MY MIND and been forced to confront my own unintended, but real, prejudices.
So, do yourself a favor. Open your mind by reading OUT OF MY MIND. Then share it with your kids or anyone else in your life! It is one that is not to be missed.