Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine

by Jessica Anderson on February 17, 2011

in Fiction, Reviews

Title: Mockingbird
Author: Kathryn Erskine
Pages: 224
Originally Published: 2010
Format I Read: Hardback
Publisher: Penguin
Rating: [rating:3]

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Mockingbird won the 2010 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. So, I snabbed it over the holidays and polished it off.

Here’s the publisher’s 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.

While the book was readable and short, it failed to really entertain or enlighten me. And, it was way too “issue-y” for me. There’s Asperger’s, a brother killed in a school shooting, and a mother dead of cancer. Sigh. However, I realize that my 28-year-old self is not the targeted audience. I think middle grade readers would both enjoy this one and learn a little something about empathy.

Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine [rating:3]

Other Reviews:
Back to Books
The Betty and Boo Chronicles
Book Bits
Book Nut
The Booknosher
Carrie’s YA Bookshelf
From Tots to Teens
Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup
Kid’s Lit
Laughing Stars
One Librarian’s Book Reviews
Readingjunky’s Reading Roost
Semicolon
Six Boxes of Books
Small World Reads

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa February 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Thanks for linking to my review! Sorry this one didn’t work better for you. I agree that it should be a must-read for teachers, especially those teaching middle school.

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Sarah at SmallWorld Reads February 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Thanks for the link! My middle school lit circle class just started reading this. I’ll be curious to hear how they like it!

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leslie February 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm

“issue-y” is a great descriptor for this novel.

i was curious how this would go over with its target audience so I coaxed my 5th grade daughter into reading it. she is an avid and eclectic reader. she read it and then read it aloud so we could all be depressed together… she liked it, but added that it wasn’t for everyone. and she wished they’d done something else with the cover–it was unappealing and she would have never have picked it up.

~L

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bermudaonion (Kathy) February 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I enjoyed this one more than you did, but have to admit that I was surprised that it won the National Book Award. One thing that bugged me (and this is REALLY nitpicky) is in the author’s note, she mentioned that she was inspired to write this book after the shootings at Virginia Tech University. It’s either Virginia Tech or Virginia Polytechnic and State University and the author should know that since she lives in Virginia.

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Bluestocking February 17, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Interesting. How have you been? I have been by lately.

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Jessica February 18, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Melissa – I think it’s sometimes hard to judge middle grade books as an adult. But I think this one would be well-received by actual middle-graders and their teachers.

Sarah – I’d be interested to hear how the book is received in your group.

Leslie – Thanks for sharing your daughter’s reaction. The paperback came out with an entirely different cover; I wonder if it would appear more to your daughter and other middle-graders.

Kathy – I haven’t read a lot of middle grade fiction from 2010, but I was kind of surprised this won too. And, it’s those little facts that can really make an author lose credibility. I tend to react the same way.

Bluestocking – Thanks for stopping by. I’ve been good, but so busy with work that I haven’t been blogging much. How have you been?

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Aths March 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I’ve been seeing this book around a lot. I have to say I find too issue-y books bothering too. It’s very rare that books like that feel genuine. Mostly they feel manipulative. I don’t think I’ll be hurrying to read this one.

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