Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Publication Date/Version: April 2010/Hardcover
Publisher: Philomel
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Around The World Tours (Thanks!)

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.

Eleven-year-old Caitlin has recently lost her brother, Devon, to a school shooting. Under any circumstances, that would be hard to cope with, but for Caitlin it's even harder. Caitlin has Asperger's. She has trouble deciphering others' emotions, therefore making it hard for her to connect with others. As she searches for closure, she comes closer to understanding others and realizes that things aren't always neat and tidy.

Mockingbird reminded me of House on Mango Street with its short, vignette-like chapters. I'm a sucker for short chapters actually. The book went by quickly, as it was short and small. I finished it under a day, but it left an impression in that short period of time.

Caitlin is both easy and hard to connect with at the same time. She's going through a lot of pain because of her brother's death and her father's somewhat helpless attitude. Because of this, you feel for her. At the same time, she makes situations awkward and doesn't know when not to speak. It made me cringe a bit, but then I had to realize she didn't have much control. It was one of those situations you wanted to watch but felt bad doing so.

Throughout the story, Caitlin, as well as her father, progress from a state of disbelief to a state of closure. She is still wary of others, but she begins to feel and recognize people's emotions, allowing her to grow closer. She makes a friend who happens to be related to the shooting in some way. The most important lessons she learns, one that all of us could learn, is not to judge people based on how they act. People act that way out of hardship and Caitlin learns this difficult lessons by the end of the story. That's what stuck with me the most: we should give other people chances before we judge them.

While this book is difficult to sum up, it was simple and important. It retaught me lessons that everyone should put into practice. I recommend picking this up so that you can revisit what it really means to be kind and understanding of others, even in hard times.

Overall: Simple and important. Teaches life lessons that we shouldn't forget. Good take on mental illness.

My Advice: Buy it or borrow it. Whichever you're more inclined towards.

Cover: This is why I initially picked up the book. I love it. It's plain, yet striking. The title and presentation have so much meaning after reading the book.

*This was read as a part of the 100+ Reading Challenge

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