Monday, October 4, 2010

MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erskine

Caitlin's brother Devon was one of three victims killed by a school shooter.  His death leaves Caitlin and their father alone to pick up the pieces and make some sense of what is left.

Being able to mourn and share their grief is complicated by the fact that eleven year old Caitlin has a condition known as Asperger's syndrome.  She does not recognize most social clues that moderate normal behavior.  Unable to interpret simple facial expressions leaves her clueless about how to interact with others.  Devon has always bridged the gap between his little sister and the rest of the world, but he is no longer there to help.

Caitlin gets some help from Mrs. Brook, a counselor at her school.  They spend time every day working on social skills, manners, and what Mrs. Brook calls empathy.  Caitlin's very literal approach to situations makes her a target for taunting and teasing that only aggravates the problem.  Now, learning to grieve her brother's death is also an important part of her daily therapy.

One thing Devon left behind might prove useful as Caitlin and her father attempt to recover and move on.  Devon's Eagle Scout project sits unfinished in their living room as a reminder that he will never return to complete it.  When Caitlin gets the idea that she and her father could finish the project as a way to find closure, it seems like an impossible task.  But with determination and some breakthroughs at school, maybe they can achieve the impossible.

MOCKINGBIRD is a heart-warming story of loss and recovery.  The addition of Caitlin's struggle with Asperger's adds an amazing element to the tale.  Kathryn Erskine recreates the world as seen through Caitlin's eyes in such a realistic and believable way; readers will be drawn in and inspired by the little girl's courage and strength.  This book is truly a loving work of art.

1 comment:

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Great book! Awesome, actually. Glad you reviewed it.