Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

This is a beautiful, well written, heart breaking story that deals with several difficult themes in an incredible way.
On one hand, the story is about an autistic child. Not only is the story about an autistic child, but it is told through her voice. Kathryn Erskine does a wonderful job of developing Caitlin's character and letting the reader learn what makes her special and what some children with autism deal with on a daily basis. This part of the story isn't easy to read, it is hard to follow Caitlin's logic and black and white view of the world. The rules she is taught that will allow her to interact with people are instinctive for most people, but for Caitlin, she must constantly remind herself of these rules. It doesn't take long to get into Caitlin's head and realize that just because she sees things differently doesn't mean it is wrong or strange- just different.
On the other side, the story is about loss and rebuilding. Caitlin and her dad are left alone after the death of Caitlin's brother Devon. It is hard to watch the family deal with the grief and the aftermath of a child's death. Caitlin's father needs to cope with the loss of his son, but also needs to handle Caitlin's needs as well. Caitlin struggles to come to grips with Devon's death and the horrible events that lead to it. Because Caitlin sees things in black and white, it is hard for her to understand everything that has happened.
I really feel that this is a story that will stay with me for a long time. I hope that kids who pick this one up stick with it and really learn what it is like to be Caitlin, a child learning to live in a world that isn't black and white, but messy and colourful.

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