Saturday, April 23, 2011

Book #18: Mockingbird

Kathryn Erskine won the 2010 National Book Award for Young People's Literature for her juvenile fiction novel Mockingbird, a first person account of a young girl with Asperger's Syndrome. Caitlin is in fifth grade, and she has a fair amount of trouble relating to her peers. In fact, the only person she really gets--and the only one who really gets her--is her older brother Devon; he was always willing to explain what confused her and help her fit in. After tragedy strikes, however, Devon is no longer there for Caitlin.

Mockingbird is a captivating, moving story about how Caitlin adapts to a world that always seems strange to her when her only guides are her grieving father, her well-meaning school counselor, and her own strong will to persevere. It's a story about seeking closure after tragedy, but more importantly it's a story about one girl's unique perspective of the world around her. I was so impressed with Erskine's ability to allow the reader to enter Caitlin's mind; I'm not expert on Autism Spectrum Disorder, but every aspect of Caitlin's Asperger's Syndrome seemed realistic and fully developed. How wonderful to explore Caitlin's perspective in a very genuine way.

I'd pair this book with Cynthia Lord's Rules, a story of a young girl who acts as explainer and protector for her younger brother with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I'd also suggest this book to readers who enjoy strong characters who see the world very differently.

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