Author: Kathryn Erskine
Publication date: January 2012
Length: 236 pages
Genre: YA / Middle grade fiction
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Caitlin misses her brother Devon. Since his death, she has no one to explain the world to her. And for Caitlin, the world is a confusing place, full of emotions and colours she can’t understand. Dad tries to help, but he spends a lot of time crying in the shower.
So when Caitlin reads the definition of “closure” in the dictionary, she decides that’s what they need. And as she struggles to find it, she learns how to let a world of colour into her black-and-white life…
Kathryn Erskine’s Mockingbird is a touching, poignant, but at the same time utterly hopeful story which will no doubt stay with you for a long time. Narrated by the 11-year-old Caitlin who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, the book deals with how people can deal with the loss of a loved one and how our lives might be different if we understood each other a little bit better. First person narration can be tricky and it can go wrong in so many ways but Erskine nailed it – seeing everything through Caitlin’s eyes is what makes this novel so special and gripping.
After finishing Mockingbird, all I could say was… WOW. Just wow. Even though it’s been a few hours since I put it down, I’m still in a complete awe – I just can’t praise it enough. It’s a beautifully written story that grabs you at the very beginning and makes you keep on reading until the very end.
What I loved about this novel the most was the first person narration. It’s interesting to see everything from Caitlin’s perspective. The author’s aim with this was “to have readers see the world the way she sees it. If they could live in her shoes, they could better understand why she talks and behaves the way she does” and it works. You cannot help imagining what life must be for Caitlin – or anyone else who has a similar illness. You see how each day is a battle for her – going to school and facing everyone when all she would like to do is to hide under the sofa cushions at home. You see how everyone is constantly making fun of her because she’s different and doesn’t behave the way other people do and it’s quite easy to emphasize with her throughout the story. Reading about how she was trying to make people understand her – or at least accept her or talk to her -reduced me to tears several times throughout the book.
Another thing I really enjoyed in the story was Caitlin’s relationship with her brother and her only friend, Michael. Erskine’s description of Caitlin and her brother’s relationship is just spot on. We learn that Devon, her brother who is a victim of a tragic school shooting, was the one who taught her everything. He told her what to do and what not to do at school so that people don’t laugh at her. He was there for her when she was terrified or confused and now that he’s no longer there for her… Caitlin is confused. Michael is a 6-year-old kid from Caitlin’s school who eventually becomes her friend. He’s the only one, after Devon, who gets her – someone who doesn’t laugh even if what she says or does doesn’t make too much sense.
To sum up, I would say that the author managed to get her message across and Mockingbird is a huge wake up call for everyone of every age. It teaches us to be more emphatic towards others and not to judge them since we don’t know what the other person is going through in his or her life. Mockingbirds is a beautifully written, powerful and poignant story which will stay with you for a very long time. Make sure to grab a packet of tissues before you pick it up because you’re in for an emotional ride. Brilliant. Unique. Something I’d be glad to recommend to absolutely everyone – you won’t be disappointed.
* Thank you to Usborne for sending me a copy of this book for review *