I’m surrounded by thousands of words. Maybe millions.[...]
Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes–each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands. [...]
But only in my head.
I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old. (1-2)
Eleven-year-old Melody Brooks is confined to a wheelchair due to spastic bilateral quadriplegia, also known as cerebral palsy. She has trouble communicating and even her teacher assume she is “retarded”, teaching her and her five classmates the same preschool lessons every day. Her mother and father know better though, and finally get the school to integrate her into main stream classes. Melody soon realizes though that not everyone is willing to believe that such a smart girl can reside in such a broken body, especially when everyone around her is trying to break her spirit.
This was a moving and poignantly written novel that portrays a person with a disability with depth and care. According to reviews I’ve read, author Sharon Draper apparently has a daughter who suffers from cerebral palsy, so she knows what she’s talking about and it shows. I know I personally would never have the patience and faith that Melody’s parents show in standing up for what is best for their daughter. Melody’s feelings are multi-faceted, creating a well-developed and realistic character who is forced to deal with daily frustrations. She is certainly not naive, and readers will be as shell-shocked as Melody with the surprise twist at the end. I appreciate Draper’s ending, because it proves that change does not come easily, and makes readers all the more willing to root for Melody.