Monday, 20 July 2015

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Paperback, 223 pages
Published January 2012 by Usborne (first published January 1st 2010)

Blurb: "11-year-old Caitlin has Asperger’s syndrome, and has always had her older brother, Devon, to explain the confusing things around her. But when Devon is killed in a tragic school shooting, Caitlin has to try and make sense of the world without him. With her dad spending most of his time crying in the shower, and her life at school becoming increasingly difficult, it doesn’t seem like things will ever get better again.

A heart-warming story of loss and recovery that won the American National Book Award 2010 – one of the most moving books you’ll ever read."

This was a poignant novel about a girl with Asperger's Syndrome whose brother is killed in a school shooting. Caitlin struggles to understand the people and the world around her. I found it sad watching her father grieve for his son from her perspective, particularly as she cannot easily connect with him. I liked the comparisons with To Kill a Mockingbird and Caitlin's search for closure leading her to finish her brother's project.

I found the scenes with Caitlin in school and with her counsellor really interesting. It can be hard to comprehend that some people cannot read facial expressions and so struggle to react as most people would to certain situations. This book also highlighted to me how often phrases we use without thinking can be very confusing to someone understanding the world in a very literal sense.

However, I nearly gave up on this book early on. As part of the story, Caitlin and her brother Devon are watching the Disney film Bambi (spoiler alert - don't read the rest of this paragraph if you haven't seen Bambi) and talking about Bambi's mother dying. However, the author got the mother's death completely wrong saying that she died in a fire instead of being shot. I'm still annoyed and quite confused as to how this error got through to publication, especially as it would be an easy fact to check regardless of if you have seen the film or not. Did anyone else notice this??

It may seem like a small thing, but that error spoiled my impression of the book, therefore it gets 5 out of 10 from me.

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