“MOCKINGBIRD,” by Kathryn Erskine, Philomel, $15.99 (ages 9-12)
Kathryn Erskine‘s “Mockingbird” was named the winner of the 2010 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature on Nov. 18.
The award alone should serve as a strong recommendation, but if you still have your doubts, here’s a bit more.
“Mockingbird” is the story of Caitlin, a 10-year-old girl with Asperger’s syndrome. Caitlin’s brother, Devon, is the person who helps her understand the world around her. But when Devon is killed in a school shooting, Caitlin is lost. To her way of thinking, things no longer make sense.
Following Devon’s death, Caitlin hears people tossing the word “closure” around. She can’t forget about it and wonders how it helps heal hurt. Closure, “the state of experiencing an emotional conclusion to a difficult life event such as the death of loved one,” is what Caitlin needs, but where to start?
Caitlin’s world is one of black and white. It’s not until she begins looking for closure that she discovers a spectrum of vibrant colors.
“Mockingbird” is a lyrical story of loss and healing. Told from Caitlin’s point of view, the complexities of death become textured. Caitlin has a simple, straightforward way of looking at things, and that viewpoint opens new doors and offers a jumping off point for further discussion.