Summary: Chapter 32
Before school, Melody tells Mrs. V that facing the quiz team will be easy compared to what happened to Penny. In classroom H-5, Melody sees her friends differently now and realizes that none of them have ever been mean to her. Catherine comes in and Melody tells her she wants to go to her inclusion classes. As Melody and Catherine enter Mr. Dimming’s classroom, they see a tiny trophy on his desk. The room is extra quiet as Mr. Dimming greets Melody in a fake, cheerful voice. Melody doesn’t respond and then looks at Rose, who tries to avoid her eyes. Melody breaks the silence by having her Medi-Talker ask why the team left her. One after another, her teammates come up with excuses. Even Mr. Dimming joins in, trying to clear his conscience. Then, there’s more silence until Rose bursts into tears. Connor walks up to Melody and places the cheap little plastic trophy on her tray, declaring that the team wants her to have it to make up for what they did. Melody giggles, then laughs harder. At the same time, her hand suddenly jerks and knocks the trophy to the ground, causing it to break into pieces. The class stares, expecting her to unleash her anger upon them but she doesn’t. They start to laugh a little. Melody’s Medi-Talker loudly states that she doesn’t want the trophy and they deserve it. She continues laughing, turns her wheelchair around, and heads out the classroom door.
Summary: Chapter 33
Melody has a realization that while she is certainly different in some ways from her “regular” fifth grade classmates, she may have more in common with them than she originally thought. They all have worries about fitting in, being liked, and trying to find out where they belong. She compares her life to a puzzle, saying that she’s trying to figure out where all the pieces go and whether she even has all the pieces. Penny is home from the hospital, getting spoiled, and that’s completely okay with Melody. Mrs. V has plugged Melody’s Medi-Talker into the computer and Melody decides to start working on her autobiography for Miss Gordon’s class. She begins her autobiography titled Out of My Mind with "I'm surrounded by thousands of words,” the very same words that start the book.
Analysis: Chapters 32 & 33
Melody’s struggle to fit in at school seems to be an insurmountable challenge at times, as there isn’t a group of students that meets both her social and intellectual needs. While Melody finds intellectual satisfaction in the inclusion classes and the quiz team, Mr. Dimming and her teammates do not include her socially, leaving her out of the team breakfast and the national competition. Although Melody has previously been frustrated and annoyed with the intellectual restriction of the special ed classroom, her recent experiences of ostracization lead her to appreciate the social acceptance she has always found there, noting that none of her H-5 classmates has ever been mean to her. Ultimately, Melody must find a way to derive meaningful connections and benefits from both groups. She accepts the love and sympathy of H-5, but also goes to her inclusion classes to expand her intellect. In Mr. Dimming’s class, she refuses to accept the pity of her teammates, shoving their trophy to the ground. While neither class meets all her needs, over the course of the book Melody has gained both the physical ability and the confidence to create a place for herself within her school’s social landscape.
Through her challenging and rewarding journey, Melody has gained a greater understanding of herself and others, learning valuable lessons and experiencing meaningful successes and difficulties along the way. By acquiring and mastering the Medi-Talker, she has achieved one of her most important goals: she is now able to communicate with people. Melody experiences a new level of autonomy when she receives her power wheelchair; she strengthens her resilience after enduring the pain of her classmates’ betrayal; and she gains a new perspective on her life in the wake of Penny’s accident. She also develops a new appreciation for her special ed classmates, who are kind and accepting despite the challenges they face. Although she feels distanced from her inclusion classmates because of their unwillingness to accept her, Melody finds common ground with them by recognizing that they have worries, embarrassments, and failures, just as she does. On the final page, Melody repeats the words she used at the beginning of the story, revealing the book to be the autobiography that Melody has written for Mrs. Gordon’s class.