Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Review - mockingbird (mok'ing-bûrd)

Katherine Erskine's book mockingbird (mok'ing-bûrd) is another Georgia Book Award Nominee for 2011-2012. mockingbird (mok'ing-bûrd) is also the 2010 National Book Award Winner in the Young People's Literature category.

Like Melody in Out of My Mind Caitlin is not like all the other kids. Caitlin is a motherless girl with Asperger's syndrome. Her brother (who was a significant bridge to the world for Caitlin) has just been killed in a horrific tragedy. Caitlin and her Dad are left to deal with unfathomable grief and sadness with very little way to communicate effectively with each other.

Because the story is told from Caitlin's perspective, we get a glimpse of what it must be like to view the world in a very literal way. She tries hard to "get it," but most often fails. She has no capacity to read facial expressions or understand nuanced conversation. She puzzles over common expressions like "keep your pants on." And while some of the misunderstandings provide comic relief, the end result is that Caitlin can't make friends. And while her isolation is comfortable to her, she longs for the connection she had with Devon.

This book is about how Caitlin persistently pursues "closure" -- the word everyone uses to describe what she and the town needs. I don't think I'm giving away too much to say that Caitlin's success in finding closure is both reassuring and moving. Don't be surprised if you need to finish this book with some tissues!

mockingbird (mok'ing-bûrd) by Kathryn Erskine is appropriate for kids 10 and up.

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