Mockingbird

( 276 )

Overview


In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and ...
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Mockingbird

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Overview


In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white—the world is full of colors—messy and beautiful.

Kathryn Erskine has written a must-read gem, one of the most moving novels of the year.

Praise for MOCKINGBIRD

• "Erskine works in powerful imagery throughout." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

• "[A] fine addition to the recent group of books with autistic narrators." --Booklist, starred review

"A strong and complex character study." --Horn Book

"This heartbreaking story is delivered in the straightforward, often funny voice of a fifth-grade girl with Asperger's Syndrome." --Kirkus, starred review

"This is...a valuable book." --School Library Journal

"Fascinating characters." --Los Angeles Times

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
[A] fine addition to the recent group of books with autistic narrators.
Horn Book
A strong and complex character study.
Los Angeles Times
Fascinating characters.
VOYA - Leah Sparks
Ten-year-old Caitlin has Asperger's syndrome, a developmental disorder that makes it difficult for her to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Unable to accurately read others' emotions through their behavior and body language, she relies on a facial expressions chart and the guidance of her older brother Devon to navigate social situations. As the novel opens, Caitlin and her father are dealing with the aftermath of Devon's death in a random school shooting. Although she misses her brother's advice and wishes life could be as it was, Caitlin is unable to understand her father's grief—that is, until she reads the word "closure" in her beloved dictionary and decides that this is what she and her father need. Author Kathryn Erskine (Quaking, Philomel, 2007, YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers) was inspired to write Mockingbird by the shootings at nearby Virginia Tech University in 2007. She wisely chose to have Caitlin narrate her own story, saving it from becoming too didactic or sentimental. Although teens may not initially understand Caitlin's seemingly unemotional acceptance of tragedy and her literal interpretation of events, they will soon become caught up in her search for closure and cheer for her as she discovers herself capable of friendship, love, and empathy. A good choice for supplementary reading in a high school psychology class, Mockingbird will also appeal to book groups for middle and high schoolers; siblings and friends of young people with Asperger's and other developmental disorders; and middle school students who enjoy thoughtful characters and a good story. Reviewer: Leah Sparks
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Virginia author Kathryn Erskine takes the reader into the world of Caitlin, a girl with Asperger's syndrome, as she struggles to understand the death of her older brother. Caitlin finds it much easier to "read" dictionaries than people; and in the course of regular meetings with her school counselor, she tries to learn social skills that will enable her to connect with others. She also wants to help her grieving father and the community to achieve "Closure" in the aftermath of the school shooting that took her brother's life. In Erskine's capable hands, Caitlin emerges as a wholly believable, admirable hero as she forges a unique path to friendship and healing. A lovely, important book. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Ten-year-old Caitlyn seeks closure. She's not entirely sure what closure is, but she knows that it will help her come to grips with the death of her big brother Devon. And she's not the only one who needs it—the school shooting that claimed Devon's life has plunged her entire town into a morass of sorrow and confusion. But Caitlyn has Asperger's syndrome. She experiences the behavior of others as a series of unrelated vignettes whose meaning she must puzzle out. While she has some tools for solving these puzzles—the facial expressions chart in the counselor's office helps—her best guide has always been Devon. Caitlyn's extremely literal interpretations, unbiased reactions, and open-hearted attempts at friendship and empathy help those around her gain fresh perspectives. Devon always knew this about her, which is why he called her Scout, after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird. Caitlyn's errors and successes at parsing her world invite discussion and reflection. Although it can be difficult to distinguish between Caitlyn's thoughts and her dialogue when listening to this book by Kathryn Erskine (Philomel, 2010), Angela Jayne Rogers's unadorned narration is poignant and forthright, making this title ideal for a group read/listen.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, MD
Publishers Weekly
Ten-year-old Caitlin Smith has Asperger's syndrome, which is why she is processing a horrific event differently than everyone else in her small Virginia town. As the result of a school shooting, her beloved brother, Devon, and two others are dead. Caitlin's mother is also dead, lost to cancer when Caitlin was just three. She addresses these losses matter-of-factly; her lack of tact is especially hard on her father, a kind man who is falling apart. Over the course of the story, Caitlin, who like many with Asperger's has incredible brainpower but few social skills, must learn empathy. She narrates—a risky choice that mostly works. Her Amelia Bedelia-like misunderstandings of figurative language provide much needed moments of levity, and her extreme conscientiousness is endearing. Erskine (Quaking) works in powerful imagery throughout—Devon's unfinished Eagle Scout project was a wooden chest, and for Caitlin, it's entwined with the irreparable bullet wound in Devon's chest. Although an author's note links the novel with the 2007 tragedy at Virginia Tech, this novel is not about violence as much as about the ways in which a wounded community heals. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
This heartbreaking story is delivered in the straightforward, often funny voice of a fifth-grade girl with Asperger's syndrome, who is frustrated by her inability to put herself in someone else's shoes. Caitlin's counselor, Mrs. Brook, tries to teach her how to empathize, but Caitlin is used to depending on her big brother Devon for guidance on such matters. Tragically, Devon has been killed in a school shooting. Caitlin, her dad and her schoolmates try to cope, and it is the deep grief they all share that ultimately helps Caitlin get to empathy. As readers celebrate this milestone with Caitlin, they realize that they too have been developing empathy by walking a while in her shoes, experiencing the distinctive way that she sees and interacts with the world. Erskine draws directly and indirectly on To Kill a Mockingbird and riffs on its central theme: The destruction of an innocent is perhaps both the deepest kind of psychosocial wound a community can face and its greatest opportunity for psychological and spiritual growth. (Fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399252648
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/15/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 387,538
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 630L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author


Kathryn Erskine spent many years as a lawyer before realizing that she’d rather write things that people might actually enjoy reading. She grew up mostly overseas and attended eight different schools, her favorite being the Hogwarts-type castle in Scotland. The faculty, of course, did not consist of wizards, although . . . how did the headmistress know that it was “the wee redhead” who led the campaign to free the mice from the biology lab? Erskine draws on her childhood—and her second childhood through her children—for her stories. She still loves to travel but nowadays most trips tend to be local, such as basketball and tennis courts, occasional emergency room visits, and the natural food store for very healthy organic chocolate with “life saving” flavonoids.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 276 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(198)

4 Star

(38)

3 Star

(24)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(12)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 276 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012

    Sob

    This story was so depressing. Its about this girl with assbergers. Shes so confused when her brother dies. I find it so sad, her narration and confusion. I personally coundnt get past the first chapter without sobbing, let alone the entire book. I quit early, which is unlike me. Then again im the type of person that cant get through a horror book without nightmares for weeks. I really FEEL the characters emotions .

    43 out of 75 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Astounding!

    I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy from the author, and let me tell you: the buzz about this book is well-deserved. Few, if any, other books about characters with Asperger Syndrome are anywhere near as accurate as this. (I should know; I've gone through much of what Caitlin does.) That alone would be an impressive achievement, but the author doesn't just stop there. Every character is three-dimensional, even the "bully." (I cannot express just how impressed I am with that.) The story is very sad, but not depressing, and manages to wrap itself up pleasingly but not perfectly. This book has a few problems; namely, that the writing takes a little while to get used to (VERY accurate in depicting how actual kids with AS write, though), but fortunately it manages to make sense the whole time and doesn't go off into tangents, like a certain well-known book with an autistic narrator which will not be named...

    If there is any justice in this world, come January next year this book will be awarded some sort of Newbery recognition. The past few years of Medal and Honor books have been excellent, and this book is worthy of standing among them. I just hope that the cover art, which is a little bland, doesn't scare people away from reading this great story. You simply must buy it when it comes out in April. Teachers, this will be great for you too. (Appropriate for ages 10-up.)

    32 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2011

    Parenting Asperger's is challenging, this book is right on! Love it!

    Being the mother of an Aspie is more than a little challenging, but this book gave me so much hope & comfort. My daughter with Asperger's is 10 years old & so much of the book mirrors our life. I found myself laughing, crying & shaking my head in agreement with the world as Caitlin sees it. Asperger's has a range of symptoms, but the black & white thinking is right on the mark! I feel blessed to have read this book & highly recommend it, for anyone! I feel so comforted & know I am far from alone. Thank you, Ms. Erskine for a wonderful book!

    31 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    Beautiful, layered, and eloquently written

    Mockingbird is one of the books that is offered for my state's reading competition. At first I was very skeptical about reading it because of the boring cover art and the fact that I didn' t know what Asperger's Sydrome was. Eventually, I picked it up and boy am I glad that I did!

    Mockingbird is about a yound girl named Caitlyn, who has Asbergers. She sees thing very differently from the ordinary 5th grader, and this is preventing her from a proper chilhood woth friends and laughter. What makes it worse is her older brother, Devon, was shot and killed. Devon was the only one that really understood Caitlyn and her needs, and without him, she has a very difficult time expressing her thoughts and deciphering everyone else's words and expressions.

    This story will bring a new understanding to Asbergers in your mind and it really illustrates the life of a veey special girl, with a very special problem. Mockingbird is a quite sad story, not really aomething to read if you want something uplifting, but if you want a touching story about a young girl's struggle to grasp the world ariund her, I would say definitely go for it.

    I would recommend this story to anyone ages 11 and up. 11 is how old Caitlyn is and it would be difficult to understand this story if you haven't experienced some on what being 11 is like. Also, it could be a little bit difficult for someone younger to read because of the way the story is written. It doesn't follow all of the "rules" of writing. Mockingbird is also a great book for adults and teachers. It would be an easy read to prettymuch any age in range that I suggested, so really it wouldn't hurt to try it out.
    -Kyrsten, Age 12

    26 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2011

    Wonderful

    Amazing, touching, inspiring, incredible book.

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Mockingbird is at once heartbreaking, sad and hopeful. It takes you by the hand, leads you down the path of love and loss and never lets you go.

    Mockingbird is a special, little book. After Caitlin's older brother Devon is killed in a school shooting, Caitlin and her father struggle to make it through their grief but they are constantly reminded of Devon and can't seem to find closure. If that isn't difficult enough, Caitlin suffers from Asperger's Syndrome so what she sees is often black or white and nothing in between. What makes this story so special is that it's told from Caitlin's point of view. This means that when she feels overly anxious about loud noises or finds herself unable to read someone's expression, we hear or see it from her perspective.

    When I first picked this book up, I found it a tad hard to follow. Caitlin's thought patterns are a bit jumbled and it takes a little bit of time to find the rhythm in her words, but when you do, you can't help but feel her pain. She loved her brother. He was the only one in the family that "got" her. He anticipated her needs and without him around, she is forced to reassess how she communicates with others.

    Here is a quote from page 21 which is where she wants to enter Devon's room even though she's been told not to:

    I wish I could go in and say Devon, I'm hungry, and he'd grin and his dimples would show and he'd say, You and me both, and we'd go find Dad and order a pizza because it's Thursday and we'd eat warm drippy extra cheese pizza in front of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.

    The other thing to note, is that all the dialogue is italicized. I got used to it and it did not detract from the story at all. Seeing things from Caitlin's point of view was an incredibly powerful experience. This book is geared towards young adults but I think anyone reading it will be drawn to Caitlin. In one sense she is terribly complex but at the core, she is like any other eleven-year-old. She wants to be understood, she wants to fit in and she yearns for friends like any other kid her age.

    Mockingbird is a quick but important read and if you're wondering if there is a connection between this book and To Kill a Mockingbird, there is, but you'll have to read the book to find out what it is.

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012

    Love it!!!!!!!!!!! ;)

    This book is sad but joyful it just made my friend cry.

    10 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I'VE READ

    This book is incredible the problem this girl has and the troubles her and her dad go through because of her brother's death will really touch your heart!

    10 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2011

    AMAZING!!!!!!!!

    It was sad but made me think how much i love my family.

    10 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2011

    Great book!

    This was a phenomenal book, the author's style of going in the main character head was a good way of demonstrating the characters feelings and what it would feel like to have Asperger's. I recommendbthis book to people who have had a tragic loss or someone who is familiar with or want to know more about Asperger' s Syndrome.

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Lovelovelove!!!!!

    This is a great book plus it helps u understand more about aspergers and how people with it think. I used to not like working with kids espessally one with diseases like this but now i think i want to be a spical needs teacher and i thank god that me or my siblings are not having to go through life like that. I love this book and im only on chapter 11 !!!!!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

    Amazing, Inspiring.

    I read this book a little while ago and I loved it. It was so inspiring. A lot of it made me cry, but it wasn't sad tears. Try this, PLEASE!

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2013

       In the novel Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine, the main charac

       In the novel Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine, the main character, Caitlin Smith is an eleven-year old girl diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, which makes it difficult for her to socialize and communicate effectively with others. In the exposition, Caitlin and her father are dealing with the aftermath of Devon, her brother’s, death in a random and tragic school shooting in their small Virginia town. Although she misses her brother’s advice and wishes life could be as it was, she is unable to understand her father’s grief- that is, until she reads the word closure in her beloved dictionary. She decides this is what she, her father, and community need, considering the shooting practically plunged her entire town into a muddle of disbelief and devastation. In her journey to find closure, her extremely literal understandings, unprejudiced reactions , and overall open-heartedness and determination help those around her gain renewed viewpoints towards life, as well as help her gain friendships and empathy along the way.
    The novel, written by Kathryn Erskine, is narrated by Caitlin Smith in first person point of view. Although it can be difficult to distinguish Caitlin’s thoughts from her dialogue, and general way of thinking at times, its unique vantage point is very insightful. It provides reader’s with a good understanding of what it is like to have a disability and almost made her come alive, showing how difficult it is to live with such a disorder. On another note, the composition is based off of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, although it is not so much about violence, as the effects of the calamity. Erskine successfully portrayed Caitlin as not only a girl with Asperger’s, but as a hero by having her pave paths to relationships and healing; not only for herself, but for her entire community.
    Mockingbird is a riveting story chock-full of loss, healing, and one girl’s journey to discover her capability to have friendship, love, and empathy. It makes readers think critically about what it would be like to walk a mile in Caitlin’s shoes and understand things from her perspective. For this reason it is truly extraordinary and inspiring. I would definitely recommend it to a friend.  Anyone curious about the side-effects of Asperger’s would be truly fascinated and absorbed into the novel. It would be best suited for teens and tweens between the ages of 10 and 15, but would most likely be enjoyed by people of any age looking for a compassionate story that makes your heart twinkle like the stars above. Ultimately, Erskine effectively composed a book with thoughtful characters and an eccentric story, that really hits home.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013

    great!

    Great, interesting, sweet, and sad all at once. I really could empathize with the characters

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 5, 2011

    This Book is Amazing

    I recomened this book to anyone who likes to read. I thought it was truly amazing and touching. Once my teacher let me borrow this to read I was really excited and I read to chaper 15 that night, I loved it. On the back of the book it reads:

    In Caitlin's world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That's the stuff Caitlin's older brother, Devon has always explained. But now Devon's dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger's, she doesn't know how. When she reads the defenition of closure, she relizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is balck or white-the world is full of colors-messy and beautiful.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Redingjunky" for Teens Read Too

    Caitlin's brother, Devon, was one of three victims killed by a school shooter. His death leaves Caitlin and their father alone to pick up the pieces and make some sense of what is left. Being able to mourn and share their grief is complicated by the fact that eleven-year-old Caitlin has a condition known as Asperger's syndrome. She does not recognize most social clues that moderate normal behavior. Unable to interpret simple facial expressions leaves her clueless about how to interact with others. Devon has always bridged the gap between his little sister and the rest of the world, but he is no longer there to help. Caitlin gets some help from Mrs. Brook, a counselor at her school. They spend time every day working on social skills, manners, and what Mrs. Brook calls empathy. Caitlin's very literal approach to situations makes her a target for taunting and teasing that only aggravates the problem. Now, learning to grieve her brother's death is also an important part of her daily therapy. One thing Devon left behind might prove useful as Caitlin and her father attempt to recover and move on. Devon's Eagle Scout project sits unfinished in their living room as a reminder that he will never return to complete it. When Caitlin gets the idea that she and her father could finish the project as a way to find closure, it seems like an impossible task. But with determination and some breakthroughs at school, maybe they can achieve the impossible. MOCKINGBIRD is a heartwarming story of loss and recovery. The addition of Caitlin's struggle with Asperger's adds an amazing element to the tale. Kathryn Erskine recreates the world as seen through Caitlin's eyes in such a realistic and believable way; readers will be drawn in and inspired by this little girl's courage and strength. This book is truly a loving work of art.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    Moking Bird

    Best book ever!!!!! It is a little confusing in the first few chapters. Its pretty much about this little girl that lost somthing very importan and how she gets throght life without it. This little girl also has mental problems that make it even harder for her to get throgh her problems.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2013

    Favorite book.

    Its a good book. It has sad parts but it was really good. Its intresting because it goes through the stages of healing her.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

    Best book ever

    This book is absoulutely toouching, and inspiring.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    Really great book

    I read this book and loved it is not a true story but is based on things that are happing in public schools.I recommend this book to people who can take on alittle disturbance(sorry of I made some spelling errors)I myself thought some parts were really gross and depressing

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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