mockingbirdTen-year-old Caitlin and her father grieve the loss of her brother, Devon, after he is gunned down during a school shooting. Losing both your mother and your brother is hard enough, but for a girl with Asperger’s syndrome, understanding other people’s emotions (as well as her own) is close to impossible. But with the help of a first-grader named Michael and a teacher who takes an interest in Caitlin, the young girl comes to understand the need for closure. And a special project generated by an object her brother left behind becomes the very thing that could bring some relief.

Told with sensitivity and honesty, Mockingbird paints the black and white perspective that often times accompanies a person with this condition. Erskine’s characterization is exquisite as the raw grief Caitlin’s father experiences is depicted through the eyes of his daughter, one who narrates the dynamics of this broken family without even intending to do so. Every layer is peeled away in appetizing bites, and short chapters provide the kind of pace that made me want to keep the pages turning.

The horrific reality of this topic was handled with a great amount of care. I highly recommend this story for anybody interested in wanting to understand more about what it truly means to grieve the loss of a loved one. I came away with a new appreciation for people with Asperger’s syndrome and the frustration that goes along with the breakdown of their efforts to communicate. I feel richer after taking this journey with Scout.