I had never heard of this book, but after reading it, I want to make sure that other people know about this book. I think it's a book that all kids should read. It's age-graded 10 and up, and I think it's perfect for 5th grade through 8th grade.
The book is told from the point of view of Melody, a girl with cerebral palsy. She can't talk. She can't walk. She can't feed, dress, or bathe herself. And until fifth grade, she was relegated to only attending special-ed classes with teachers who treated all the special-ed kids as if they were stupid.
But Melody has a brain and it's a good one. Melody can understand everything people say to her, but she doesn't have the ability to communicate. She's sort of trapped within her own mind.
When she is in fifth grade, her school decides to allow the special-ed kids to attend some of the "regular" classes with the "regular" students. There are good and bad aspects of this for Melody. She does make a new friend, but she's constantly having to defend herself as best she can and prove that she's just as smart as everybody else. Luckily, this same year, her parents purchase her a special computer (kind of like what Stephen Hawking uses) that allows Melody to choose the words she wants to say and the computer will say them for her.
There is a particularly heart-wrenching scene toward the end. Everything seems to be going so well for Melody, and then you're reminded just how cruel and thoughtless kids and adults can be. I actually cried during that part, and if you're a mother reading this book, I'm sure you will bawl over the scene for weeks.
I feel about this book the way I felt about Lauren Myracle's Shine. This is a book that every kid should read!