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on 9 January 2012
Mockingbird is a moving novel by Kathy Erskine in which she tries to send a very important message 'in hopes that we may all understand each other better'. This book was written after the Virginia Tech school shootings, which is of course a very emotive subject. Erskine handled the portrayal of the aftermath of this well.

I was drawn it from the very first page of Mockingbird by the unique writing style and distinct voice of our eleven year old narrator, Caitlin, who has Aspergers. We are thrown into the highly emotional setting from the start when we discover that Caitlin's brother, Devon, was a victim of a school shooting. The whole story is about 'Getting It' (finding understanding), finding closure and acceptance.

It is really interesting to see the world from Caitlin's perspective. She has quite basic language but the thought behind her words makes them very intense. For the most part, her actions make her appear younger than her age, but her thoughts could be seen as complex. There is some light humour throughout the book even though the protagonist isn't intentionally, or aware that she is, amusing - this just makes the story all that more poignant. Caitlin is often very literal in her thoughts and speech and this shows how things are interpreted differently by different people. Even though Caitlin was different, it's easy to empathise with her.

Reading about Caitlin trying to make friends with others and her relationships in general were intriguing and her search to be able to empathise with other was touching. I found reading about her relationship with Michael, a younger boy whose mother was killed during the shooting, to be emotive and very intense but also very natural. Both Michael and Caitlin are young and their childishness, juxtaposed by the harsh issue of death and loss was very effective. I also found the difficult relationship between Caitlin and Josh, a brother of the shooter, to be very stirring. There was more miscommunication when people were calling him 'evil' for simply being related to the shooter.
I found one scene in particular, in which Mr Mason, a teacher, makes an offensive remark about autistic children to be quite crushing, I really felt emotion on behalf of Caitlin. Her relationship with her counsellor and future art teacher, however, were fantastic.

The title, Mockingbird, is a direct reference to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. When Devon was still alive, he used to call Caitlin Scout as when she says something, it makes people think. The parallels between the Caitlin and Scout's family were well linked. A lot of this story revolves around Caitlin and her father working together to complete building a chest for Devon's Eagle-Scout project, in an attempt to give them both closure. This is a very sentimental idea and it is heartwarming to read about. The relationship between Caitlin and her father is poignant and impressive and when the chest is completed, there was quite an overwhelming feeling.

The ending of this book was pleasant, but of course it wasn't perfect - it shouldn't and possibly couldn't be perfect. Not everyone is best friends or happy, but there is certainly room left for this to be a possibility. There's a good conclusion which leaves the story able to naturally progress.
Despite everything that happened, the community spirit is still there.

This was a fantastic and sometimes heart wrenching book that I would certainly recommend and I really anticipate reading more of Erskine's work.
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on 22 February 2012
I read a really nice review of this book last year and added it to my wishlist. By the time I actually got around to buying it I had kind of forgotten why I had put it on my list. I remembered that I had read a review but didn't really remember much about what the review had said, or even what the book was about. I mainly bought it because I wanted to add new books to my Kindle before I went o holiday and it was quite a lot cheaper on Kindle than as a paper book (I really have a thing about Kindle books having to be cheaper).

I was a little unsure about having Asperger's and a school shooting in the same book. It just seemed as if Erskine needed to add an extra issue to make her story a book. Actually though on reading the book I didn't find it to be so. It was really interesting to see the shooting through Caitlin's eyes. No, that's not true really because the shooting didn't so much come into it. It was more seeing the loss caused by the shooting and the effects of it on other people through Caitlin's eyes was the interesting thing. It didn't really matter much what the sad event was, it was the response to it that really mattered.

I thought the way Caitlin's voice was captured was really authentic, you could tell that Erskine was drawing from personal experience.

It was funny, and sad, and sweet. I loved Caitlin.

It's a quick and easy read without loosing any substance and I would really recommend it to anyone.
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on 5 November 2015
This was such a heartwarming and moving novel that works for readers of any age. From the very first page, I found myself totally enraptured by eleven year old Caitlin, who suffers from Asperger's and has just lost her brother to a school shooting.

Caitlin is a very logical and literal person, her emotions don't work the way they need to and she finds that to be her biggest challenge. She hates upsetting people, but ends up doing just that on many occasions due to her extreme honesty and her failed attempts at pleasing people with being truthful. She doesn't understand or know how to "flatter" and "compliment" people unless she really means it.

This entire story is dedicated to Caitlin finding closure. Quite literally, if I may add. She doesn't comprehend the idea of closure, but is on a mission to find it, because she is told that is what she needs to help her father move on from her brother's death. Her dad has taken the loss of his child so badly that he is barely functional and cannot communicate with his daughter without breaking into tears.

What's so beautiful about this story though is how Kathryn Erskine deals with the aftermath of a school shooting and the lives of those affected by it, including the younger brother of the shooter, Josh, who has been vilified due to his brother's actions. Caitlin does not understand that though, her reasons for not liking Josh are very simply because he is not a nice person and likes to bully other kids. Period. That is all there is to it.

So when Caitlin befriends seven year old Michael, who she later finds out had lost his mother in the shooting, it makes perfect sense that he is younger than her given that her approach to life make her seem much younger than she is. Their friendship comes very naturally; she found the perfect person to humor her and understand everything she says without the complication of emotions and flattery. She never needs to worry about Michael not saying what he means, and he in turn looks up to her and finds her hilarious. However, when Michael also befriends Josh, Caitlin is suddenly feeling extremely protective over her friend from this bully.

These relationships along with her pursuit to closure make this story extremely compelling and stirs so many emotions in you. You want to help her find closure, you want to help take care of her when her dad seems so unable to, and you want to be her friend. The way she takes responsibility over her dad, and takes the role of a grown up almost when at home is so touching that you just want to shake her dad and tell him to wake up and take control of the situation!

Such a sensitive topic handled so expertly by Erskine.
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on 25 May 2012
I do not do the emotional reading these days, but it caught my attention the description as I have close friends who are Aspergers, and friends whose kids are Aspergers... I had never encountered before a piece of writing so truthful, so close to what I think/feel/experience about Aspergers like this book. Amazingly written, I couldn't put it down, and cried a LOT throughout ...which very few writers get from me....LOved every minute. Thanks for keeping the pricing real too :)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 October 2010
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.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
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on 22 March 2012
The best thing about this book for me was that it managed to deal with two very tough subjects and yet still feel like a light fluffy read. Caitlin's view of the world was unique and compelling; I found myself devouring the whole story within a couple of hours as I couldn't put it down!

The story is told in the first person, from Caitlin's point of view. I don't believe it could have worked any other way - as Caitlin has Asperger's, so the way she sees things is very different to the way we do. Although only ten, she has a strong voice and it was really interesting to see the different things she would say and do - simple sayings that we use easily confuse her, she has to have her clothing a certain way and she hates any shades of pink!

Of course, the book deals with a second difficult subject - death. Caitlin's brother, who guided her through life, was murdered in a school shooting and as well as having to cope with that, her Father isn't quite there. I did feel slightly angry towards him at times, though!

The ending is well wrapped up and did leave me wanting more - I wanted to find out what would happen to Caitlin when she moves schools!
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on 29 August 2013
How does a community come to terms with the sudden deaths of teachers and pupils following a shooting at school? And what if you have Aspergers and see the world differently. This story follows the life of Caitlin whose brother Devon was shot. She's ccoming to terms with the death, but at the same time learning to live in a world where emotions and feelings mean nothing to her, she doesn't understand the nuances of language and she's trying to make friends, "learn manners", "learn finesse" and "find closure". Her father is struggling to cope and there's a danger that he's shutting her out, but with the help of Mrs Brooks she learns to cope and in turn finds closure for herself, her father and the community. Very funny, sad and moving and a thoughtful and caring portrayal of the challenges of Aspergers. Winner of two American book awards, this is predominently written in dialogue, spoken and thought.
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on 23 June 2012
i work with boys with aspergers syndrome so decided to read this story. i read it in 2 days as found it was a very simple read with not alot going on. i think its more ideal for children or teenagers. i would recommend House Rules if readers are interested in reading about aspergers syndrome.
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on 30 September 2014
This was amazing inside and out. I couldn't put it down, and finished reading it within two days. It was very well written, endearing and heartwarming at times, at others heartbreaking, but I assure that you will be overwhelmed with emotion all throughout the book. I have experienced the death of a family member, as many of you probably will have, and I also have a close family member who, like Caitlin, deals with Asperger syndrome. These two heavy topics are tenderly written, and as Kathryn hoped, I feel I do understand others better now, especially those on the autism spectrum. As the title of my review reads, this book as a whole, was beautiful. I recommend this to anyone, whether you can relate to the two main topics or not.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 29 March 2013
So moving, through Caitlyn we see her Dad's pain, Michael's pain, even Josh's, and come to see what Asperger's is really like for someone who has it. That has been done before but rarely this well.
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