Warning: this book made me cry. A lot. It should be recommended reading for any 5th grader (or thereabouts) as it does a great job of showing that we don't all see the world the same way. Caitlin is a very smart, talented 5th grade girl who has Asperger's, but has never been told she's on the autism spectrum. She and her beloved older brother have been raised by their single father, since their mother died of cancer. Then her brother is killed in a school shooting at his middle school. Hence all the crying. Her father is lost in his grief, leaving Caitlin to figure things out mostly on her own, with some guidance from her school counselor.
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
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 heartwarming 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 this little girl's courage and strength. This book is truly a loving work of art.