Genre: Middle Grade/ Early Y.A
Published: 2011 by Scholastic (first published January 1st 2010)
Date Finished: 22nd October 2011
Shelf Recommendation: Buy it, Borrow it, Steal it.
Rating: 5 stars *****
Caitlin has Asperger's. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon has died, and Caitlin's dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn't know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure- and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be black and white after all.
I was looking through my local library with my younger sister when I came across Mockingbird. I loved the cover instantly. It was simplistic yet there was something hidden beneath the surface. Much to my delight when I read the blurb I had to read this book.
My sister was diagnosed with Asperger’s at a young age, and growing up was hard as a sibling. Especially seeing the affect it has on my parents. It is difficult to explain to people just what it is like living with someone with Asperger’s and harder to imagine what it must be like to live with it yourself.
Kathryn Erskine’s Mocking Bird was a beautiful, chilling and richly observant portrait of what it is like to live with and be affected by Asperger’s. While reading this book I learned to appreciate my sister all the more. I began to watch her and spent time with her even sharing snippets from the novel. We laughed together at how truthful the similarities between Caitlin and my sister were and we reminisced back to when we were a whole family and the struggles we endured. In that way I can only push this book forward and recommend it to everyone who wants to understand. And yet her disability was only a fragment of a truly entrancing novel.
I loved the way that the author handled Caitlin’s fixations, especially with her Closure and the dictionary. Her single obsession starts to control her thoughts being the only thing that she knows and needs. She must understand Closure. It hurt me to read about, every little step closer I wanted to cry for what couldn’t understand and how hard it was for the people around her to help her reach it, while forcing her into situations that were beyond difficult for her to comprehend.
Caitlin’s father, a man who throughout the book spent majority of the time walking away from his daughter tore more pieces from my heart than Caitlin did. The inner struggle within him, expressed through his behaviour at times made me want to slap the man, while others support him. His grief is handled honestly.
The references to ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ were fascinating; In short burst woven into the lines between fiction and reality. It makes me want to pick the book up to better understand Caitlin’s mind and memories.
My only real annoyance was the lack of grammar. I know it was written in that style and format to relay Caitlin’s thoughts and feelings, but it grated a little after a few pages and made some passages confusing enough to re-read them again.
There is so much I want to share about this novel that it brings tears to my eyes to think about. Pick it up please. I wish I could send this book out to all the people in my family who truly have no idea, so they could understand and read deeper into the truth. I think everyone is going to have a different reaction to this novel. What doesn’t sit right for some, may connect with others, but I would recommend this novel to children right through to adults.
Ending with a message about her inspiration for the novel this is one of those stories that will stay with me for a long time and one I want to share with everyone.