Out of My Mind


Sharon Draper

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Out of My Mind Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Sharon Draper's Out of My Mind. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Sharon Draper

Sharon M. Draper was born Sharon Mills in Ohio, where many of her novels are now set. She grew up in Cleveland, went to college in California, and then returned to Ohio for graduate school, settling in Cincinnati where she now lives. Draper was a teacher for many years (winning the National Teacher of the Year award in 1997), and started writing books because she wanted to write novels her students would be excited to read. She published her first book, Tears of a Tiger in 1994, while still a high school English teacher. Eventually, she switched over to writing full time. She has written over 25 books for children and young adults, and has won many awards and honors, including the Coretta Scott King Award for outstanding African American authors and illustrators (which she has received five times).
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Historical Context of Out of My Mind

On a personal level, Out of My Mind was inspired by Sharon Draper’s daughter, Wendy, who has cerebral palsy. Draper has said in interviews that she was interested in writing about a smart child, like Wendy, who is trapped in a body that she can barely control. On a national level, the book exists in a world after the 1990 American’s with Disabilities Act was signed into law. The ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone with a disability, and gives people with disabilities equal access to transportation, public spaces, and other resources. In Out of My Mind, much of Melody’s life is made easier because the world must legally accommodate her, but the law does not extend to cover her teachers who underestimate her or the students who bully her.

Other Books Related to Out of My Mind

Out of My Mind is one of many contemporary books for young adults that provides a realistic look at the lives of children with disabilities and developmental disorders. It is similar to Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, which follows a year in the life of a young boy with a facial deformity. Out of My Mind also shares subject matter with Rules by Cynthia Lord and Mockingbird by Catherine Erskine, which both feature main characters with Autism and Asperger’s. These books all stress the importance of acceptance and empathy. They are written both for children with disabilities who rarely see themselves represented in fiction, and for able-bodied children who can gain a sense of understanding through the stories.
Key Facts about Out of My Mind
  • Full Title: Out of My Mind
  • When Written: Late 2000s
  • Where Written: USA
  • When Published: 2010
  • Literary Period: Contemporary Fiction
  • Genre: Coming-of-Age Novel
  • Setting: Present day Ohio
  • Climax: When Melody’s Whiz Kids team leaves her behind, and when her sister, Penny, is hit by a car.
  • Antagonist: Unsympathetic Classmates, Mr. Dimming, Dr. Hugely
  • Point of View: First person, Melody narrates

Extra Credit for Out of My Mind

Widely Read. Out of My Mind has been given literary awards by eighteen states, and is on the state reading list for thirty-two states.

Productive. Since becoming a published author in 1994, Sharon Draper has published 26 books over the past 24 years. That’s more than one book per year!