Mockingbird was the winner of the American National Book Award 2010. It is a novel where we meet 11-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger’s syndrome, who had an older brother, Devon, who was always there to explain the things that she cannot understand. Devon is gone. Killed in a tragic school shooting. Caitlin’s father is grieving and unable to give the attention his daughter needs to understand what has happened. She knows that Devon is gone, but cannot understand her fathers response. Caitlin’s school life is getting increasingly difficult, often getting sent to her support teacher after outbursts as she deals with teasing from others.
Initially I thought I would end up comparing this novel to ‘A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ but luckily that idea went away after the first chapter.
Caitlin struggles to understand emotions or recognise what emotions she herself is feeling, so dealing with her older brothers death is very different from the typical grief many of us have went through. Caitlin becomes further isolated without her brother help in explaining the social norms of school. She cannot ask her father why certain people have said certain things to her, he is absent, unable to communicate through his grief. People are saying things Caitlin does not understand.
A well written account of a young girls journey in understanding the void she possesses after her brothers tragic death, the more complex journey of a young girl with Asperger’s syndrome.
This novel stayed true, always viewing the world through Caitlin’s eyes, thus allowing the reader to view the world from the perspective of someone with Asperger’s syndrome. As a reader we can start to understand how hard it must be for those who are unable to understand emotional cues and know how to react in social situations.
However I felt the novel was a bit slow, which is its only failing in my opinion.
A heart warming story of grief and the journey in which father and daughter learn to move on from Devon’s death while always remembering him.
I will give this 3.5 out of 5