“Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school but no one knows it. Most people (her teachers and doctors included)don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can’t, because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write.
Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind; that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.
From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you’ll never, ever forget.” ~ Goodreads
Published: March 9th, 2010 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Length: 295 pages
Audience: ages 10 & up; grades 4 and up; classrooms; teachers; parents; everyone
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Disability, YA, Children’s Lit, Book Club, Contemporary Fiction
Kid’s review (11 year-old 6th grader):
“This book kept my attention and had really great details about Melody’s life. I was impressed with how smart and confident Melody was even though she had a major disability. It shows that you shouldn’t judge someone without knowing them. She was able to overcome some challenges when she got to meet the rest of the students and go to “regular” classes. I liked the friendship between Melody and Mrs. V because she wouldn’t let her give up and kept pushing her harder. I would recommend this book to kids in 5th grade and older. I also was impressed with Melody’s vocabulary and memory. I would talk to her if she was in my class. I didn’t like how some of the kids judged her by her looks. And made fun of her too. Some of the kids in my class really liked this book and some thought it was boring. I liked it so much that I told my Mom to read it.”
I was curious about what book kept my daughter (see above) so engrossed even though it was required reading at school. She kept telling me bits and pieces and that I should read it so we could talk about it. Being a special education teacher, I thought the scenes at school were written honestly. Unfortunately there are as many adults as there are children who are not knowledgeable when dealing with people with disabilities. The fact that Melody knew how challenging she was to care for as well as the kids in her special needs class, spoke volumes. She talked about how many of her teachers and aides didn’t stay around long but due to the fact that their jobs were tough, not that they didn’t have compassion. She said they should be paid millions of dollars and I couldn’t agree more. As a parent, I can’t imagine having a child with such a debilitating disability. The scenes with her parents and how she longed to hug them and tell them she loved them with words really tore at my heart. Draper really honed in to the voice of an 11 year-old with fears, doubts, courage, strength and a sense of humor dealing with her life. I appreciated that she wrote the ending (the contest) the way she did to once again bringing an honest depiction of life’s challenges. I would highly recommend this book for grades 4th and up and that includes adults of all types. Parents or not.