Friday, May 23, 2014

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

from goodreads: In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white—the world is full of colors—messy and beautiful. Kathryn Erskine has written a must-read gem, one of the most moving novels of the year.

This book immerses you into the world of autism. It was really insightful seeing the world through Caitlin's eyes--she has one of the most distinct character voices I've ever read. This book helped me understand more about this disorder, both from Caitlin's point of view and from those around her. I felt myself sympathizing with all sides. I felt frustration on Caitlin's behalf for not being able to readily understand body language and emotion, and I understood the feelings of helplessness of those trying to help her. I admired the way her counselor stood up for her, and at the same time pushed her to move out of her comfort zone. When Caitlin takes her advice and tries to make a new friend, a surprising connection is forged-- one that helps Caitlin through her grieving period and find closure.

Caitlin's family has really been through a lot. Her mom died from cancer a few years before the story opens, Caitlin struggling with autism, and now the family is trying to cope with Devon's death. At first, it seems that this latest trial will tear the family apart. But in Caitlin's search for closure, she not only brings healing to her family, but to the community as well. I loved the references to the book 'To Kill a Mockingbird', and how it helped give Caitlin the strength to take charge of her family's situation and start to turn things around. 

This book emotionally drew me in, and I kept thinking about the story days after I finished it. A must-read!

Rating: 4
Published: 4.2010
Awards: National Book Award for Young People's literature (2010), 
                  YALSA Awards for Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011)

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