C.G. Drews's Reviews > Mockingbird

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
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it was ok
bookshelves: middle-grade, contemporary, read-2015, autism

Edit 9/2020: I forgot I even reviewed this book until a comment notification reminded me of it, and the instant flash of frustration and belittlement I got from being reminded it exists. It's been 5 years, I won't pretend to remember this book entirely. But it is an absolute resounding example of "autism moms" writing about how much they secretly resent their children. The book is ableist and portrays autism as a flaw and a burden. And yes, I know, because I am autistic :) There's a difference between autistic people presenting differently (as obviously we all do because we're not a monolith) vs autistic people being written with the toxic undertones of resentment and ignorance (example: this book). Definitely recommending some #ownvoices autistic books: Can You See Me?, Please Don't Hug Me, Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate: A User Guide to an Asperger Life, Stim: An Autistic Anthology and Queens of Geek.

Ugh, I did not have a good time with this book at all. I read it because it's about a girl with Aspergers (we go undiagnosed a lot due to stigmas promoting that boys are more likely to have it. They aren't. Girls are more likely to go undiagnosed due to being able to blend in and imitate their peers better.)

ASD is a broad spectrum, but this didn't feel like a very accurate portrayal. The protagonist possibly had other learning disabilities? Because her thought process wasn't typically ASD at all. Autism runs in my family so I would know and no one I know is even remotely similar to Caitlin at all. But like I said: spectrum. This book is written from how a neurotypical views ASD, not from what it is actually like to have ASD.

Caitlin also lacked huge ASD pointers, like having an obsessive interest and she had no need for routines and no emphasis on anxiety. Also the biggest insult is saying that people with ASD are not emphatic. This is so untrue. Oftentimes it's hard for us to show empathy or it's shown in different ways, but the whole book was about Caitlin learning to care about people and it's just...it's a stigma and it needs to stop. The felt like an NT going "omg it must be so hard/bad to be ASD" and it was very ableist.
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Reading Progress

July 7, 2015 – Shelved
July 7, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
July 16, 2015 – Started Reading
July 16, 2015 – Shelved as: middle-grade
July 16, 2015 – Shelved as: contemporary
July 16, 2015 – Shelved as: read-2015
July 16, 2015 – Finished Reading
August 7, 2015 – Shelved as: autism

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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Valerie McEnroe I agree 100% with your review. It did not feel authentic based on my personal experience with an Aspergers child.


Katelyn Saul Actually, I really liked this book.Its one of my favorites really. Of course everyone has an opinion of their own, and you really expressed yours, which is great.But I do encourage people to read this book.


Mandi I think your mistaken it was written like a 5th grader with Aspergers. have you read many story's written by a 5th grader ? it's pretty much right on.


Queen Elizabeth of Gondor As a person WITH Asperger's Syndrome, I can say this book actually was very accurate. Not everyone with ASD has a special "skill", and as for the routine thing, not everyone with autism is the same about that.


Kathryn You don't have to have a "skill" to have aspergers. you mention you've done a lot of research but fail to realise the reason girls are less likely to get diagnosed is because they don't usually present in the typically expected way and because they don't always tick every box or their obsessions seem more "normal" in comparison to what is typically seen in boys. I've only started reading this morning but there are parts that already feel familiar to me.


Lois Honestly, you captured how I thought about this book perfectly.


Laura OBrien But wasn't her "obsessive interest" discovering/retaining words from her dictionary?


message 8: by Ástrós (new)

Ástrós Aþena Thank you for your review. Me being autistic myself, I will stay away from reading this in the near future. And also, thanks for the recommendations!


message 9: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Have you heard of A Kind of Spark? It's a middle grade novel with an autistic MC, written by an own voices author, and the plot is about the MC campaigning for a memorial to those murdered in witch trials.


message 10: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I just wanted to say thank you for your review and adding your suggested better reads. I never would have found them without this review. I teach a 12th grade English Class that often includes students who have autism. I am always on the lookout for good books in which my students can see themselves in the characters. I'm often left finding books whose main characters with autism are portrayed negatively or stereotypically. I really love Marcelo In The Real World and Anything But Typical, but both main characters are male. I am excited to finally find books with a main character that is a female and has autism. I can't wait to start reading them. Thanks again.


message 11: by C.G. (new) - rated it 2 stars

C.G. Drews Jessica wrote: "I just wanted to say thank you for your review and adding your suggested better reads. I never would have found them without this review. I teach a 12th grade English Class that often includes stud..."

Thank you for commenting this, Jessica!! It was really lovely to read and I hope your students enjoy some of the recommendations from autistic authors too 💛


message 12: by Merenwen (new)

Merenwen I haven't read the book, but reading your review makes me want to avoid it like the plague. (I came across it on my library's catalogue, but wanted to see what the Goodreads reviews said before borrowing it.) I'm also on the spectrum, and I've been trying to find good novels about girls and women with ASD that aren't all "oh, what a burden". What you said about lack of empathy being a stigma? SO TRUE. I wish people would get off that stereotype and actually talk to a variety of people on the spectrum.

In case you still read the comments, give Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick a go. The MC has ASD, ADD, and a sensory disorder (I can't remember the proper name of it), and it's a pretty accurate portrayal IMHO.


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