Sunday, April 15, 2007

In Search of Mockingbird

Ellsworth, Loretta. 2007. In Search of Mockingbird.

In Search of Mockingbird is a new book that feels like an old friend. Erin is a sixteen year old on the run. But it isn't like you might think. She's not running away from something, so much as she's running towards something. Since her mother died when she was a baby, Erin has felt disconnected. She has no memories of her mother, but she's tired of people telling her that she shouldn't miss what she never had. She feels an emptiness, a loss, that is very real. This void begins to be filled when she picks up a tattered copy of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The book belonged to her mother and is filled with gems like these: "I love this part" and "Scout's father, Atticus, was much more than a man" (7). These notes and markings from her mother are like a tender message to her daughter. Since she first discovered it in the attic, it has become her most treasured possession. That is until her father gives her mother's diary to her as a birthday present. Now, these two possessions and a dream are her way to connect with her mother. Her dream? To go to Monroeville, Alabama, and find Harper Lee. More than anything, she wants to talk with this author who has created a bond between her and her mother. So on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Erin sneaks out of her house and buys a one-way bus ticket. Along the way, she'll meet interesting characters who teach her some important life lessons. This book is a perfect illustration that sometimes the journey becomes more important than the final destination.

In Search of Mockingbird is beautifully told in poems and prose. Erin is a memorable character who showcases what it means to be human. What it is about--what it is all about--is a young woman's search for a deeper connection with life. She wants more. She needs more. The novel satisfies from cover to cover.

Unspoken lies are the worst kind.
Scout said she was young when her mother died,
and she never missed her presence.
I was preoccupied with my mother at an early age,
like a memory long gone that I yearned for.
I think Dad missed her, too,
even though he didn't say that he did.
"Was Mommy pretty? Did Mommy have long hair?"
"Yes." "No." Short answers masked in sadness.
Did I say something wrong?
Finally, I stopped asking.

Related books:
I highly recommend To Kill A Mockingbird to anyone who hasn't read it yet. But I also would recommend reading Pepperland by Mark DeLaney. Pepperland is about a sixteen-year-old girl who is grieving for her mother and trying to connect with her through an old guitar and an old fan letter to John Lennon. Another book with a similar theme is King Dork. King Dork is about a young teen boy who is connecting with his father (who is dead) by reading a tattered copy of Catcher in the Rye. So B. It by Sarah Weeks is another great book about a young girl--this time a twelve-year-old trying to connect with her mother. It also features a girl traveling cross country on her own.
Chasing Ray's review of In Search of Mockingbird
ProperNoun's Review of In Search of Mockingbird

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