“Mockingbird” by Kathryn Erskine
Genre: Children’s/Middle Grade Fiction. Contemporary Fiction
Summary from Goodreads:
In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white—the world is full of colors—messy and beautiful.
This was a lovely book. I always find books featuring people with Asperger’s interesting. Being around people with it can be difficult because you have a hard time understanding what’s bothering them. Mockingbird allowed us to step inside Caitlin’s world and understand her a bit. I’m sure life with Asperger’s would be difficult enough on its own because life can be difficult. Caitlin’s life got a lot more difficult when her brother was killed in a school shooting. Caitlin had a lot to deal with so you were easily able to understand her meltdowns. You could also feel the frustration that coming from others when they speak to Caitlin and she doesn’t understand them.
Caitlin has a good journey over the course of the novel. We meet her at her worst. I’m sure tragedies like this make behavior worse in people like Caitlin. Tragedies mess up everyone. You see how rigid she is and how she is unwilling to bend for other people. She slowly starts to open up and makes a friend. She starts to understand other people’s feelings. In the end, she’s able to find her closure. I really appreciated how she’s not a drastically different person. She’s still Caitlin but she’s a Caitlin who has a little better grasp on people.
It’s a nice contemporary fiction story. I appreciated seeing children’s book that deals with the aftermath of a school shooting. The story takes place after the shooting. We’re not dealing with the hows and whys of the shooting but rather the picking up the pieces and moving on. I thought everything was handled really well and is absolutely on par for the age group.
The bottom line? A good book with an interesting snapshot of what life is like after a tragedy.