Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

mockingbirdI tend to be drawn to characters with high-functioning autism / Asperger’s syndrome in books and film. I have a feeling it’s because I can relate to the experience. I therefore wanted to like Mockingbird a lot more than I actually did.

The book is an easy read, and compelling enough to continue to the end but the overarching plot of the aftermath of a school shooting is harder to relate to in the UK where, after a school shooting almost 20 years ago, private ownership of handguns was made illegal. The recent Sandy Hook tragedy has been connected with Asperger’s in the media, an opinion that muddies the real issue of gun control. But enough of my personal opinion on gun ownership, and back to Mockingbird.

I did not connect with Caitlin. I found her character inconsistent. For someone technically highly intelligent, her understanding of particular words did not ring true. Not understanding social situations and how to react in them, and not understanding all the nuances of something is one thing; expecting the reader to believe that she has never come across words such as ‘closure’ and ‘finesse’ is quite another.

Further inconsistencies include where Caitlin misinterprets the phrase “Scout’s honour” as a reference to her brother’s nickname for her. Except, from the first page of the book, we know that her brother was in the Eagle Scouts so there is no reason why she would make this misunderstanding considering how close she was to her brother.

I found the ending rushed and hollow. I think it is supposed to be poignant and fulfilling but it didn’t work for me. I’d wanted to read Mockingbird since Jax’s review last year, and finding it for 99p in the Kindle sale was an irresistible bargain. I’m not sure if I can recommend it, based on my feelings for the main character and the let down of the rushed ending. It’s certainly readable, but not a patch on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

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