Saturday, June 26, 2010
Mockingbird. Kathryn Erskine. 2010. April 2010. Penguin. 224 pages.
It looks like a one-winged bird crouching in the corner of our living room. Hurt. Trying to fly every time the heat pump turns on with a click and a groan and blows cold air onto the sheet and lifts it up and it flutters for just a moment and then falls down again. Still. Dead.
Caitlin, our heroine, is grieving her older brother, Devon. But it isn't just her grief--it isn't just her father's grief--no, readers see a community grieving. How did Devon die? Perhaps that's best revealed in Caitlin's own words, in her own time.
One person whom Caitlin could always count on to understand her, to accept her, to love her was her brother. The two had an incredible bond. After he's gone, Caitlin decides she needs closure...can Caitlin find a way to do this? Can Caitlin find a way to help her dad too?
Caitlin's grief is complicated by her having Asperger's syndrome. Caitlin struggles with understanding people, reading their expressions (or emotions), relating to others. She has a difficult time empathizing. She knows how to be polite. And she tries her best to make eye contact. At least now and then to make eye contact. But it doesn't mean it's easy for her to make friends. There are so many things in life that are too messy for Caitlin to understand, to appreciate. Like colors. That's why she prefers to keep her drawings in black and white. But with the help of her school counselor, Caitlin is trying her best to cope with life, to cope with loss.
I loved Caitlin. I loved her younger friend, Michael. I loved so many things about this one.
I think Mockingbird is a compelling read, a heartbreaking one at that. It is emotional; it is intense; but it is good.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews