Melody has cerebral palsy which makes it so she cannot walk, talk, or feed herself. Doctors tell her parents that she is also mentally retarded, but her parents believe that she is intelligent. With their continued support she learns to communicate with a word board, but it is not until she gets an assistive computer that everyone discovers just how brilliant she is. Once Melody can communicate she is put in a regular class for a few hours each school day, and there has to learn to manage interaction with other kids and teachers.
Some people have compared this story to Wonder by Palacio. It is similar in many ways. Melody, like Auggie, has a very supportive family. Like Auggie, she has to deal with the insensitivity of those she thought were her friends. Although I liked this book it just wasn't as good as Wonder because of how the story was timed. Draper ends with betrayal of Melody, where as Palacio gives the kids in Wonder time to show that they have accepted Auggie after his betrayal at Halloween. That gives the reader a much more emotionally satisfying experience. The message in Wonder is that kids can learn to be kind and accepting, but the message here is that even though the kids were jerks, Melody is strong enough to go on.
Still, I liked the book and I think Draper really gives the readers a valuable insight into the struggles physically challenged kids, and the strength of the human spirit. 295 p.