Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Review: Mockingbird

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
~ Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird

I wasn't expecting to be blown away by this little book written for a preteen/YA audience. But Katherine Erskine's Mockingbird was absolutely fantastic. In fact, I had to keep checking the back of the book to make sure that it really was written for young readers, not necessarily because of the content but because I enjoyed it so much.

The story centers on Caitlin, a 10-year-old girl with Asperger's Syndrome. I can't even begin to describe Erskine's amazing ability to get inside the head of Caitlin, to describe what she's doing and thinking in a way that makes perfect sense, even to those of us who have very little real-life experience with anyone on the autism spectrum. As the reader, you are immediately there in Caitlin's world from the first sentence.

The book begins in the aftermath of a horrible tragedy: a school shooting in which her 13-year-old beloved brother, Devon, is killed. As Caitlin tries to process this tremendous upheaval in her life, the adults around her—particularly her widowed father and her teachers—try to cope with their own devastation and to help Caitlin.

I generally avoid books that deal with school shootings because they often seem to be capitalizing on a tragedy. NOT SO here at all. Not one single bit. This book is filled with heartache, especially for Caitlin's father and for another young boy in the book; but it's also filled with hope and restoration. I cannot express enough how absolutely beautifully written this book is on so many levels, from Erskine's actual writing style (including fantastic dialogue) to her ability to get inside Caitlin's skin and "walk around on it."

If you liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time, you will love Mockingbird. I loved The Curious Incident…, but I will have to say that Mockingbird blows it away. I know that's very bold of me to say, especially with the former making its rounds of required reading in schools now; but I think Mockingbird is a rare gem.

I've given this to my 12-year-old daughter to read, so I'll be curious to hear if she loves it as much as I do. As it is with many YA books, I think adults will appreciate this book on a completely different level as teens or tweens. Please don't hesitate to pick it up even if you aren't the targeted audience.

Other Reviews of Mockingbird
Forever Young
Reading Nook
Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup
Tina's Book Reviews
Carrie's YA Bookshelf
Laughing Stars
Kids Lit
Six Boxes of Books


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Sounds fantastic! Adding it to my tbr list now!

Danielle Zappavigna said...

sounds great, i really enjoyed the curious incident of the dog in the night time and am glad to see another story written from the perspective of a person with Asperger's. Sometimes I wonder if books are given the label of 'young adult' if the protagonist is a child, regardless of wether the book really fits that mould - The Book Thief for example.

Nikki in Niagara said...

As a person with Asperger's myself I totally agree with your review! Glad you enjoyed it! It is a little treasure. I was very pleased with book and its portrayal of Asperger's in females. Especially since we are often given the male perspective which is very different from how female's present.

Leah Courtney said...

Oooh. This does look good! I think I'm going to let my daughter read this one because it is may be more age appropriate than Look Me in the Eye.

Anonymous said...

This sounds really good. Thanks for the review :)

Unknown said...

I just read the last page of Mockingbird. The meloncholy that always happens when you finish a great book drove me to look for more about the book. This book was amazing! Great review! I will be posting a review on my blog in the near future.