Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mockingbird - Kathryn Erskine

Also reviewed by Kari.

Summary:  In Caitlin's world, everything is black and white.  Anything in between is confusing.  That's the stuff her brother, Devon, always explained.  But now Devon is dead, and her father cries a lot.  She wants to help her dad -- and herself! -- but as a ten-year-old girl with Asperger's syndrome, she doesn't know how.

She turns to textbooks and dictionaries, easy for Caitlin because they're full of facts in black and white.  After reading the definition of Closure, Caitlin knows this is just what she and her father need.  And she is determined to find it.  In her search she discovers that not everything is really black and white -- the world is full of colors, messy and beautiful.  And perhaps if she "Works At It," Caitlin and her father can have Closure and Empathy, too.  (Summary from book - Image from )

My Review:  Life with Asperger’s is hard and Caitlin is always Working At It. Her brother, Devon used to show her what to do, how to act, and what not to say, so that people wouldn’t laugh or stare. Only now Devon is dead, and Caitlin feels adrift, unsure how to behave without him, confused by her father’s erratic behavior, and unable to explain or even understand her own feelings. In her grief, Caitlin struggles to decipher the emotions that swirl around and inside of her, but it is through her conversations with the school counselor, an unlikely friendship, and a special project, that Caitlin discovers how to find happiness in the midst of heartbreaking loss.

I read Mockingbird from cover to cover while my youngest daughter took her morning nap. Reading a book in one sitting is a gift, in and of itself, but this book would have been beautiful even with a million interruptions. Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime and written “in the hopes we may all understand each other better,” Mockingbird is a poignant glimpse into the mind of a child with Asperger’s syndrome. Erskine’s delivers a stunning and tender portrayal of grief and recovery, with a voice that is unique and brilliantly rendered. Although this book could have been completely depressing, I closed it feeling strangely uplifted -- as if Caitlin’s journey from black and white to color was somehow my own.

Perhaps as its greatest achievement, Mockingbird offers insight into the behavior, mannerisms, motivation, and thought processes of someone with Asperger’s. By the end of the book, I felt a greater understanding for how Caitlin’s mind worked and a deeper empathy for families dealing with this particular neurological disorder. I highly recommend this book to everyone, but especially those who know someone with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Go ahead. Buy it, borrow it, or check it out. You will not be disappointed.

My Rating: 5 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  Read away. 

Sum it up:  A convincing and eloquent portrayal of loss, recovery, and Asperger's Syndrome. 


Anonymous said...

Asperger's is a neurological disorder, not a disease.

MindySue said...

Dear Anonymous,
THANK YOU!! I will fix my review to reflect the proper terminology. I wasn't quite sure what word to use, so I appreciate your help.


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