Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine

Mockingbird is probably most compared to Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, if for no other reason that it features a child protagonist with Asperger’s. It’s a valid comparison: both books do an excellent job of portraying the inner thoughts of a person on the spectrum struggling to make sense of an emotionally charged situation. (At least, I assume they do. I’m further on the neurotypical side than the characters, so I can’t say exactly how accurate it is. Although I do have my moments……)

In Mockingbird, the main character’s teenage brother has died, and her single father has to deal with both the circumstances of his son’s death and his daughter’s reactions. Caitlin is faced with all sorts of uncomfortable-for-her situations, including group projects at school and the community’s grief that she can’t fully comprehend.

I have to say, though, it was heartening to see how much support Caitlin was getting at school. She had daily sessions with a counselor who did an excellent job explaining social conventions and other people’s reactions. Most of the teachers presented in the book seem to have at least some understanding of how to deal with her, and how far they can push her limits. The P.E. teacher is horrible, but some of Caitlin’s classmates step up and genuinely help. On balance, it’s a good school situation for Caitlin to be in.

And she definitely makes social progress through the book. She makes some friends by the end, as well as helping her father (and the community) work through their grief. She even helps the school bully deal with some of his issues, in a way.

It’s a fantastic book – I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who deals with Asperger’s kids or even with tragedy victims.

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