This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erkine

This novel won the National Book Award for Young People Literature. It was a beautiful piece of work that made me cry.

Caitlin is a fifth grader that we soon learn has Asperger's. The way she sees the world is very amusing, even though it is viewed by others as sad. She reminds me of the character Christoper from one of my favorite novels ever, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

I did not expect this winning novel to be so sad. The story is essentially about Caitlin, her dad, and her community, dealing with The Day Our Life Fell Apart, which entailed a middle school shooting in which three people are killed, one being Caitlin's big brother Devon.

Devon got Caitlin. He helped her function in the world, a world where no one Gets It and a world that Caitlin struggles to fit in. With him gone, she is on her own although everyone around her is trying to help her.

Caitlin's world is amusing but also frustrating. She learns about Your Manners and gets excited when she says Thank You because she has earned a sticker for the Your Manners chart. She learns from a younger classmate that Your Manners are Her Manners which makes her ecstatic that she has control over Her Manners.

The crux of the matter for Caitlin, however, is Closure and asks everyone around her "How do I get to the state of experiencing an emotional conclusion to a difficult life event?", which was the dictionary definition of Closure. She decides that finishing a chest that her brother was doing for an Eagle Scout award would be Closure.

This novel is so sweet and sad at the same time. Knowing that Caitlin struggles to define the emotion of "death" to her, and how the people around her try to help but really have no idea what she knows about death is tough...because as the reader, we can see that she Gets It and its everyone else that doesn't Get It.

I love this book and I will be recommending it to one of my BFFs, whose daughter was recently diagnosed with Asperger's. I love the Author's notes, where she explains what inspired this novel. I like these lines especially:
We all want to be heard, to be understood. Some of us are better than others at expressing ourselves.
I think that is so true for every one of us, regardless of which side of the spectrum we are on.

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