Review - Mockingbird - Katheryn Erskine

MockingbirdTitle: Mockingbird
Series: N/A
Author: Katheryn Erskine
Genre: Middle-Grade, Contemporary
Publication: April 15th 2010, Puffin
Pages: 235 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Katheryn Erskine for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes!
Caitlin has Asperger's. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon was killed in a school shooting, and Caitlin's dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn't know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure--and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be so black and white after all.
I received this book to review awhile ago, but for some idiotic reason I never picked it up earlier and I chastise myself for not reading this powerful, thought-provoking gem of a novel sooner. Mockingbird is amazing, it's heart-warming but contains an equal amount of heartbreak which will have you in tears. It sends forth the simple but generally unused message in today's world of the importance of understanding those around you, as well as understanding yourself. It thoroughly depicts the tragic events that can unfold when the simple, humane gesture of sympathy and empathy is disregarded and left unpractised.

Mockingbird is told from ten year old Caitlin's perspective. Caitlin has Asperger's Syndrome, she experiences difficulty understanding the emotions of those around her, as well as understanding the difference in her and why people often shun her for it. Caitlin sees things in black and white, something is either this or that, and she doesn't like it when things blend together and she can't distinguish one thing from the other. The person who helped her understand and taught her the correct way to behave and such was her older brother, Devon, who was tragically shot and killed in a Virginian school shooting. Caitlin tries to comprehend the shocking loss of her brother and the fact that she has to accept to life without him, but it's no easy feat. When she starts talking to Mrs Brook , her school's therapist, and she learns about the word “closure”, she makes it her mission to try and find closure for herself, her dad and everyone in need of it. With many new discoveries and mishaps on her journey, Caitlin learns that not everything in life is in black and white or set in stone, and that these different “colours” and unexpected situations in between are often beautiful things that are required for the healing process.

This book was utterly amazing, I absolutely adored it. It left a huge impact on me and I believe it's a story that will stay with me for many years to come. I have utterly no complaints about this book, and if there were one, the only complaint would be that I wish it were longer.

I adored our main character Caitlin. At ten years old, she has lost her mother to cancer and her brother to a vicious school shooting, as well as having been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome she has to deal with life's confusing daily struggles that are thrown at her. Caitlin is a strong character, and although she's had this horrific turmoil at such a young age and the impact on her is evident, you can still see how hard she works at trying to get through this and to understand the things happening around her. Caitlin is such an amazing, steadfast, determined person that is honest and kind. The things she says are amusing and insightful and it often resonated deep within me. She perceives things differently and she observes things that other people don't. It was extremely interesting reading a book where the narrator is one with Aspergers and I think the author did a fantastic job portraying Caitlin as a girl with Asperger's.

Caitlin's character growth throughout the novel is one that warmed my heart. She went from this girl that had a difficult time understanding those around her and saying things that were often too honest, to being someone who could make friends and connect and empathise with those around her. When she started making friends with first-grader Michael and interacting with kids in her class and being so kind and learning how to be a friend, it made me tear up. I loved watching Caitlin grow into a more self-assured, empathetic person who could better understand the world in which she lives it.

There weren't that many characters who we got to see a lot of, but the ones that we did see all played a vital role in the story in accommodating Caitlin and her quest for making friends and for finding closure. I loved Michael and Mrs Brook who were so kind and helped Caitlin through her everyday struggles. I liked Caitlin's dad but I don't think he did a very good job of helping Caitlin. I think that he was just so grief-stricken that he had wrapped himself in his own cocoon and he didn't know how to break his way out of it, causing him to not always be the greatest help to Caitlin. It was really beautiful though when, with Caitlin helping herself, she also ended up helping her dad and those around her.

This novel is flawlessly written and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing was constructed in a simple manner yet the resulting effect was of a powerful nature. I loved being able to get inside Caitlin's head and see things from her perspective and understand the way that she views life was a learning experience that opened my eyes. I appreciated that the author wrote this book in such a gorgeous, honest manner, and that although the main topic was grief, it consisted of equally heart-warming, amusing scenes that lightened the devastation this book was centred around. 

Mockingbird also really makes a point of reminding us how vital it is for people to empathise with each other, for people to go back to the basic foundation of being a friend and learning to engage with others. Learning to project kindness and love and honesty towards every person you meet and trying to understand them. Caitlin was judged a lot and called nasty stuff sometimes and I love how she didn't let this ruffle her feathers and just went on being polite right back to them, I think we should all strive to be as determined, hard-working and kind as Caitlin.

Overall, Mockingbird was a book I shall cherish for a long time. It's a middle-grade novel that is powerful and resonates deep within in the core of the reader. Thank you to the author for writing a book with such a lovable, unique, talented and thoughtful main character and for creating such an uplifting and inspiring novel.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!