Cheryl Klein's Reviews > Mockingbird

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
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Oct 24, 09

bookshelves: children-s
Recommended to Cheryl by: Book group
Read in October, 2009

This book didn’t really work for me, mostly because I never believed fully in Caitlin as a real person with Asperger’s*: Her symptoms seemed a little too textbook, she used a lot of figurative language, and frequently it felt like she was being used as a cutesy naïf who makes mistakes, but can still tell truths and bring wisdom to all the regular people. (Much like the much-loathed-by-me Boy in the Striped Pajamas, I’m sorry to say, though truly it isn't nearly as bad as that book.) The author’s note where Ms. Erskine says she chose an Asperger’s narrator to teach people to consider things from other points of view, thus perhaps preventing more school shootings like the Virginia Tech one that inspired this, contributed greatly to this impression.

With that said, it is a good example of a book that accumulates many small details and experiences over time to show an emotional change in the protagonist; I especially admired how this was done with Caitlin’s friendships, and the well-worked-out image systems. It clearly succeeds at moving other people, just didn't happen for me.

* Disclaimer: I have no experience with Asperger’s, other than having edited a YA novel with an Asperger’s protagonist/narrator and having done a fair amount of reading on it then.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim B. The book is pretty accurate, actually. I've said this in a lot of comments on other reviews and in my own review, but a lot of what happened in this book happened to me when I was young. I didn't really feel like she was being used to communicate truth and wisdom to "normal" people; if that were the case I would have been horribly offended. (Though I could see where one might get that impression and it's certainly a valid criticism.) I got that impression from "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime," which made me livid (something few books are capable of doing), but not from this book. Also, the primary motivation for the author to write about a girl with Asperger Syndrome was her daughter, who also has the disorder.

Anyway, I liked this review, because you actually explain what you did and didn't like about it instead of one or the other. I'd rather have someone intelligently disagree with me than stupidly praise something without explaining why they enjoyed it.

P.S.: I would like to know what the book you edited is called. I'm heavily interested in all books about autism and Asperger Syndrome and I would certainly be interested in reading it.


Cheryl Klein Hi Kimmy -- thanks for your comment. I had missed the fact that the author's daughter had Asperger's when I wrote this review, and I have felt rather embarrassed about said review in light of that fact! Your comment makes me reconsider it yet again.

The book I edited was called MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD, by Francisco X. Stork.


message 3: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim B. Oh, cool. I read that book last year and loved it. It's pretty accurate too. I had a hunch that it was the book you were talking about.

No need to feel embarrassed about the review. I don't think the Author's Note mentions that little fact; I found it out through the author's website. I can see how one might get the idea that you got. I may have gotten the same impression if I didn't know about the author's daughter; if I remember correctly, I thought the book would be very shamelessly preachy and grating before I read about her reason for making Caitlin have Asperger's.

Thanks for your quick reply.


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