Author: Kathryn Erskine
Genre: Fiction, Middle Grade/Young Adult
Originally Published: April 15th 2010
Format: Kindle (242 pages)
Synopsis: Caitlin has Asperger’s. The world according to her is black and white; anything in between is confusing. Before, when things got confusing, Caitlin went to her older brother, Devon, for help. But Devon has died, and Caitlin’s dad is so distraught that he is just not helpful. Caitlin wants everything to go back to the way things were, but she doesn’t know how to do that. Then she comes across the word closure- and she realizes this is what she needs. And in her search for it, Caitlin discovers that the world may not be black and white after all.
My Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
I’ve seen some conflicting views of this beautifully written novel and they all seem to boil down to people feeling that this novel does not accurately reflect the reality of Asperger’s Syndrome. I think it’s important to remember that each and every human being is different and this, of course, includes those with AS.
I thought this was a beautifully written story about the reality of love, loss, grief and emotion. This novel cannot be viewed purely as a ‘book about a girl with Asperger’s Syndrome’. It deals with so much more than that. As we enter this story, we are immediately confronted with the heart-breaking situation of a school shooting with has resulted in the loss of Caitlin’s brother, Devon. Grief is explored in this book from Caitlin’s view of her father’s loss of a son but also her own loss as she begins to come to terms with the loss. This is dealt with in a delicate and realistic manner and I felt it to be very touching.
As you read this book, you realise how hard life is for Caitlin outside of her family situation. She openly struggles with identifying emotions and social appropriateness due to her AS and by the end we see a Caitlin whose eyes are much wider open to the world around her than they are at the beginning of the book. She is learning the merits of having friends and how to begin socialisation successfully to make new friends.
What did I love most about the book?
As a teacher, I personally really loved seeing the relationship between Caitlin and her counsellor/teacher. Their relationship is so key to Caitlin’s happiness and welfare and I couldn’t get enough of the interactions between the two of them.
“Sometimes I read the same books over and over and over. What’s great about books is that the stuff inside doesn’t change. People say you can’t judge a book by its cover but that’s not true because it says right on the cover what’s inside. And no matter how many times you read that book the words and pictures don’t change. You can open and close books a million times and they stay the same. They look the same. They say the same words. The charts and pictures are the same colors. Books are not like people. Books are safe.”
“I don’t think I’m going to like it at all. I think it’s going to hurt. But after the hurt I think maybe something good and strong and beautiful will come out of it.”
“Empathy isn’t as hard as it sounds because people have a lot of the same feelings. And it helps to understand other people because then you can actually care about them sometimes. And help them. And have a friend.”
A well-written, emotional and delicate read. I would recommend this quick read to anyone and everyone. This book gave me a lot to think about and I am glad I read it when I did.
Have you read Mockingbird? What did you think?