Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (2010)

Caitlin Smith’s world has been turned upside down. Her older brother, Devon, has been the victim of a horrific school shooting. Devon was the person who helped Caitlin make sense of the world. As a ten-year-old girl with Asperger Syndrome, Caitlin has a hard time understanding people and situations around her. She relied on Devon to be her guide on the complicated and messy journey of life. But now it’s just Caitlin and her father, who is having difficulty coping with his son’s death. At least Caitlin has Mrs. Brook, her counselor at school. But Mrs. Brook doesn’t seem to ‘Get It’ that Caitlin needs to find ‘Closure’, not make friends. When Caitlin comes up with a plan to finish a project Devon and her father began, she sets her small family and the larger community on a path to healing.

Erskine reveals the need for early intervention as her motivation for writing Mockingbird in the Author’s Note. Inspired by the Virginia Tech shooting, Erskine melds two distinct issues (school shootings and Asperger’s) into a thought-provoking novel for middle-grades. Over the course of the novel, we see many instances where Caitlin misunderstands or is misunderstood by her peers. Caitlin, however, has people in her life to guide her. There are many others that may have no one. By providing insight and explanation behind Caitlin’s behavior, she hopes the reader will be closer to understanding the mind of someone who is considered an outsider.

Read Nicki’s Review.

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