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Literature / Mockingbird

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Mockingbird is a book written in 2010 by Kathryn Erskine.

Caitlin Ann Smith has Asperger's Syndrome (and she claims that she's not autistic). She hates colors with the reason that they "run into each other", she is very picky with the clothes she wears, loves drawing, sees a counselor at school, and is friendless. Her only true friend is her older brother, Devon, who helps her out with whatever confuses her. Unfortunately, he dies in a school shooting along with two other people, leaving her and her father grief stricken. Caitlin doesn't like what his death brings, and life becomes even more confusing and complicated. With Devon no longer there to help her and her dad doing nothing but sit around and cry all the time, she decides she has to find something called closure. But she doesn't know what closure is and how to find it.


This is not to be confused with the comic book Mockingbird nor the Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird (although it does contain allusions to the latter). Nor with Mockingjay, the third novel of The Hunger Games trilogy, for that matter.

This work contains examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: Played straight with Caitlin's dad, Harold, who does nothing but cry, sit around, yell at Caitlin when she does something inappropriate, and force her to do things she doesn't want to. He grows out of it near the end.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Caitlin is not very well liked by her classmates, and unfortunately for her, she unknowingly tends to bring it upon herself because of her Brutal Honesty and her inability to understand that some of her actions are inappropriate (which would have been rectified if people actually taught her the right ways to socialize with people). They avoid her like the plague. Josh has it the worst, because his cousin is the one that killed Devon and two other people at the middle school, and to his classmates, he's guilty by association.
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  • Alpha Bitch: One of Caitlin's classmates, Mia, starts off rather mild, but in chapter 31, she outright says to Caitlin's face that her behavior is disturbing, which makes her throw a tantrum.
  • Berserk Button: Don't tell Caitlin she's autistic, because she associates it with her classmate William H who screams a lot and eats dirt, which she finds gross.
  • The Bully: Josh becomes this. It turns out he picks on people because everyone picks on him for being the cousin of the school shooter who killed Devon, so they claim he's guilty by association.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Caitlin, full stop. She's smart in some areas, and in some areas not so much, like friendship. She is extremely picky about the clothes she wears, she has non-mainstream tastes in entertainment (she likes cartoons, her favorite being Bambi), and talks in big words.
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  • Eating Lunch Alone: Caitlin has no friends her own age, so she does this.
  • Fatal Flaw: Caitlin's major flaws are that she tends to be a little bit arrogant ("I'm good at friendship"), doesn't realize some of her actions are inappropriate unless someone else tells her, and seems to be under the impression that honesty means "tell everyone the truth even if it hurts their feelings because being honest is good."
  • Friendless Background: Caitlin's autism and flaws haven't attracted any friends.
  • Hollywood Autism: Averted in that Caitlin is very high functioning and capable of learning new things, but she still struggles with deciphering emotions, learning that some of her actions are inappropriate in certain settings, and socializing with kids her age in appropriate ways.
  • Insistent Terminology: Caitlin knows she has Asperger's, but she seems convinced that she's not autistic, because one of her classmates is autistic, and all she sees him do is scream and eat dirt. Her counselor, Mrs. Brook, gently calls her out on this.
  • Lack of Empathy: Played with in that Caitlin is, in fact capable of empathy and can show compassion for other people. She just has trouble expressing it in appropriate and socially acceptable ways.
  • Literal-Minded: Caitlin isn't very good at understanding verbal expressions. Her definition of "try to put yourself in someone else's shoes" means actually wearing someone else's shoes, when it's supposed to mean "imagine how that person feels about this and this."
  • Loners Are Freaks: Many people call Caitlin a freak because of her autism, so she's alone in her grade as a result.
  • Missing Mom: Caitlin's mother died of cancer when she was three, and Michael's mother was shot by Josh's cousin.
  • No Indoor Voice: Caitlin believes her classmate Emma is loud and annoying, but since the story is told from her point of view, we don't know for sure whether she's actually loud. She is, however, very outspoken.
  • Poor Communication Kills: This is a frequent problem in the books, as people don't really bother to explain things to Caitlin in a way she can understand, which could have saved her a lot of trouble. This is, however, a recurring theme in the book, as it's major aesop is to communicate with people and understand them so things can turn out better. Caitlin even lampshades it at one point.
    Caitlin: I wish people would just tell me these things. It would make life a lot easier.