Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine is the 2010 National Book Award winner in the Young People’s Literature Category. It is one of the best books I have read for a long time. It tells the story of Kaitlin, an intelligent fifth grade girl with Asperger’s syndrome. Kaitlin and her father’s lives are turned upside down when Kaitlin’s brother Devon is shot in a school shooting. Kaitlin and Devon were very close and it was Devon who helped Kaitlin to “fit in”. Now Kaitlin is left with her widowed, grief-stricken father and she does not have any friends. Fortunately, Kaitlin has Mrs. Brook, an excellent school counselor. With Mrs. Brooks help, Kaitlin improves her social skills and learns how to cope with everyday situations. After much encouragement from Mrs. Brook, Kaitlin makes her first friendships.
Kathryn Erskine explained in the author’s note that the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings inspired her to write Mockingbird. She also wanted to portray how a child with Asperger's syndrome sees the world. I found it very illuminating to see what a person like Kaitlin deals with on an everyday basis. For me, Mockingbird was not only a thought provoking book, but also an entertaining and interesting one. Erskine did a great job drawing her characters. Next to Kaitlin, my personal favorite was Mrs. Brook. I highly recommend this book, especially as a family read.