Several years ago, I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. That was when I came across Asperger’s Syndrome for the first time. I read up bits and pieces about it, and was overwhelmed by the power of the brain and the ways in which it processes information.
I picked up Mockingbird without knowing that it was written from the point of view of a girl with Asperger’s. Caitlin’s world is confusing – why do people speak in riddles? Why do people say things they do not mean?
A beautiful, heart-wrenching read, Mockingbird explores grief, loss and healing. How can Caitlin find closure when her brother Devon – who always helped her make sense of the world – is killed in a school shooting? And can she help others find closure too? Is that what empathy is about?
Unsaid rules that govern the world make Caitlin retreat into herself time and time again. And the bewildering world of language hinders rather than helps.
For instance, when Caitlin’s father asks her what she wants to do for her birthday, Caitlin says that she wants to go to the mall with Devon. Her father is devastated – has Caitlin not realised that her beloved brother Devon is dead?
When Caitlin’s counsellor, Mrs Brook, gently broaches the subject, Caitlin replies that she knows that Devon is dead. But her father asked her what she wanted to do, and she responded honestly – that she wanted to go out with her brother. That she could not do this was another matter altogether.
Caitlin’s simple, confusing world is heart-wrenching. The world is complex, and coming to terms with this can be difficult at the best of times. For Caitlin, it feels as if she needs to Work At It when it comes to everything – she has to work at life itself.
More than once, Mockingbird made me cry. Caitlin and her new friend Michael reached out to me through the pages and made me love them. Kathryn Erskine’s writing is lovely – its simplicity makes it all the more beautiful.
|Rating (out of 5)||5|