I have a lot of respect for Kathryn Erskine. It takes quite a bit of skill to write from a first-person perspective when the narrator’s autistic. Mockingbird does not come off as gimmicky or disrespectful and Caitlin’s autism is an extremely engaging way to look at grief and loss.
The book starts with Caitlin staring at her brother’s unfinished Eagle Scout project. Since the story’s from her perspective, I was a little lost as to what was going on. The second chapter came quickly and the audience is able to see Caitlin at a funeral for her brother. She’s trying desperately to figure out what’s going on, why people are saying the things they do, and why her brother is dead.
The Eagle Scout project represents Closure (she capitalizes it because it’s so important) and continuing with life despite an event that hurts an entire community. Seeing it through Caitlin’s eyes is really interesting because she does not understand empathy. As she learns how to feel what others are feeling, we as an audience learn more about what happened to her older brother.
It’s a beautifully simple book that had me growing in empathy alongside Caitlin. The short length of the book helps – too much longer would be too much of a good thing (or too emotionally exhausting, depending on your perspective). I’m excited to booktalk this to students. I don’t think the cover sells the book at all, but it definitely deserves a read.