Book Review | mockingbird (mok’ing-bûrd)
by Kathryn Erskine

Score: 3.5

© 2010, Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, USA.

Caitlin is in Fifth Grade when her older brother, Devon, is shot and killed during a school shooting.  Caitlin has Asperger’s Syndrome, and Devon was the one person in the world who could help her navigate life’s difficulties and do things “the right way.” Everyone is trying to help Caitlin and her father cope with their situation, but the situation is deteriorating. When Caitlin hears that what she needs is “CLOsure” she looks it up in the dictionary. She understands that “CLOsure” is exactly what she and her father need, and she sets out on an unrelenting path to find it.

In this remarkable book, we are once again (see Marcelo in the Real World) taken into the mind of an individual with AS to view how the world is seen through their eyes. Written in first-person, as if the reader were inside Caitlin’s head, seeing the world through her eyes, listening to the taunts of her classmates, the counseling from her teachers and her hopes that things will work out for herself and her father. We hear her thoughts of confusion, helplessness and hopefulness as she remembers her brother and uses him as inspiration to guide her toward a solution to the problems she is facing.

From Caitlin’s point of view, you wonder how people can get it so wrong.  Her thinking is remarkable, logical and clear. It is no wonder she has a “meltdown” now and then. Remembering that we, with our total lack of understanding, are most often on the outside looking in at AS individuals, this book provides an unparalleled and unique view of their thought processes.

At once irritating, frightening, poignant and hopeful, your heart will want to reach out to Caitlin and her father as you follow their difficult journey from unfathomable pain to triumphant healing. This is a must read for teachers, schools or classrooms who work with or around AS students.

Grade Level: 4th – 8th

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
The book used in this review was provided by the publisher cited.
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