Caitlin is seeking closure. Her older brother has died and her Dad is upset all the time. She is missing her brother in a different way, but recognises that something needs to be done. When Caitlin hears about closure, she decides it’s what they need.
The problem is working out what closure is, exactly. 11-year-old Caitlin has Asperger Syndrome, which means that closure could be almost anything. But she starts working on it, despite her Dad not cooperating.
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine is not just an aspie book, it’s also a dead child book, with the added drama of the death being a school shooting. While wondering if this is putting too much into one novel, I do recognise that this could happen. Aspie children will definitely be as much at risk of deaths in the family as anyone else. School shootings probably less so. I suspect Kathryn opted for this because she needed more than one victim for her plot.
If it weren’t for the fact that Kathryn has personal experience of Asperger Syndrome, I would have said Caitlin is almost too much of a textbook aspie. We are all different, though, so it’s not for me to say. Whereas Caitlin has some support at school, I feel the adults surrounding her are a little too stupid and uninformed, with every conversation and classroom situation peppered with phrases waiting to be misinterpreted by Caitlin’s literal thinking.
But, she goes about trying to improve the situation at home without help, understanding that a change is vital for her and her Dad’s continued lives together. And it having been a school shooting, there are important ideas for what it’s like from the other side’s point of view.
Life is not easy. But it can be made better.