Fieldmouse Books

Natalie Fieldhouse, Independent Usborne Organiser


Book Review - Mockingbird

19th December 2017

For Caitlin, life makes more sense in black and white. Colour leads to too much confusion, and when colours blend together it's impossible to predict the results of it. And change is always a bad thing.

After losing her brother in a school shooting, Caitlin's life is thrown into chaos. Her dad keeps having day time showers, and she's sure that she hears him crying, even if she doesn't want to. She wants to talk to him about 'The Day Our Life Fell Apart', but she doesn't have the words to do it, and he definitely doesn't seem to want to listen. The only person that would know what to do is her brother Devon, but Devon is gone, and Caitlin doesn't know who to turn to anymore.

Caitlin's counsellor Mrs Brook thinks that if Caitlin could find a friend then her world would seem brighter again. But Caitlin already has friends in her dictionary, her TV and her computer, and has no need for anyone else. Plus, Mrs Brook thinks she'll find a friend at recess, and recess gives Caitlin a horrible feeling in her stomach. That is until she meets Michael.

Like Caitlin, Michael also lost someone in the school shooting - his mother. And like Caitlin, Michael doesn't know how to deal with his grief - and neither does his father. The two develop a sweet friendship, and Michael shows Caitlin how good it can feel to have a friend.

When Caitlin hears about closure from a news report, she knows that that is what she is looking for, but finding it is not as simple as she thought. When Mrs Brook tells her that closure is different for different people, Caitlin is determined to find the one thing that will give her closure after the death of her brother.

Although the novel is based on a devastating tragedy, Erskine has interwoven the sadness amongst some touching humour and beautiful characters. Michael is one of the purest characters you will meet in a novel, and his innocence really highlights the good in humanity in a backdrop of cruelty and senselessness. Michael is a refreshing thread throughout the novel, and in spite of being the youngest character, he is in many ways the wisest, making his own decisions about others, and remaining a loyal friend to Caitlin.

Throughout the novel, we see Caitlin grow and develop as a character, and learn to make sense of a world without Devon in it. She learns how to empathise, and to be a good friend, and perhaps most importantly, she learns to let colour back into her life. Caitlin is a narrator that you will fall in love with, and a narrator that you will desperately want a happy ending for. She reflects the insecurities that many of us have, and is a perfect reminder that anything worth having is worth working hard for.

Mockingbird is a timeless classic, and a novel that everyone should add to their to-read list.

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