Saturday 7 April 2012

98. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Published April 2012 Usborne

From the publisher:

11-year-old Caitlin has Asperger's syndrome, and has always had her older brother, Devon, to explain the confusing things around her. But when Devon is killed in a tragic school shooting, Caitlin has to try and make sense of the world without him. With her dad spending most of his time crying in the shower, and her life at school becoming increasingly difficult, it doesn't seem like things will ever get better again. 

This book is set in the aftermath of a school shooting.  A shooting that took place in a small community where two students and one teacher died.  The entire community is affected by this tragedy, but in this book we get a close up look at how one family copes. Devon was one of the victims, and we follow his Dad and his sister on their road to recovery.  Caitlin also has Asperger's syndrome, so she is dealing with her own grief, but also trying to understand the feelings of all of those around her.

I read that the author's daughter has Asperger's, any author who writes about something close to their heart, writes a story that feels honest and believable.  It's probably what makes the character of Caitlin so endearing.  As a reader you just want to make everything right for her, make it easier, because she is trying so hard to fit into a world that she just can't quite understand, and so few people are willing to stop and try to help her.

The main characters are Caitlin, her counsellor Mrs Brook, Caitlin's Dad and Michael  It's Michael the first grader who really manages to connect with Caitlin, partly because he is young and when he feel something (like sadness) his face shows it quite clearly, and Caitlin is able to read that and understand, he is her first friend, and he is coping with his own grief.  The interaction between the two of them is beautiful and funny, innocent and straight forward, despite the obvious difference in their age, they just like each other, and that is surely the reason that people are friends.

I have put an age range from 10+ on this book, I was going to only put teenage, but I think that there are some younger readers that will really appreciate this book.  I think the school shooting, although it didn't happen in this book, is still a big part of the story, and it's that aspect that may push the book up to the teenage age range.

All in all this is a beautiful story about loss and different kinds of grieving, finding Closure, making friends and looking at the world from a different point of view.

Who will like this book: Girls age 11+
Read it if you like: Wonder by RJ Palaccio

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