“In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white.
Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing.
That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white the world is full of colors messy and beautiful.”
Thoughts: Even though Mockingbird is geared towards younger readers, Kathryn Erskine makes it easy for readers of all ages to empathize with every aspect of Caitlin’s behavior, no matter how quirky or disruptive. The reader easily slips into Caitlin’s mindset, and all those within her circle who fail to remain patient with Caitlin’s quirks quickly become evil. Yet, this is not a story about Asperger’s. While it provides remarkable insight into the thought patterns of someone with Asperger’s, Mockingbird is ultimately a poignant story on the ravages of grief. Caitlin and her father, along with the entire town, struggle to make sense of the tragedy that changed their lives forever. Ultimately, it is Caitlin’s faith in her beloved brother that unites the community in their grief in a way that is so simple it is brilliant. Readers of different ages will walk away from Mockingbird with different insights, but the emotional tug that comes from Caitlin’s struggles for normalcy cross generations and provide the story its heart. An emotionally engaging and quick read, Mockingbird is one novel that everyone should read in order to understand how being different truly feels.
Acknowledgements: Mine. All mine.
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.”
Thoughts: John Boyne’s fable about a young German boy’s experiences in Nazi Germany, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, is a bit predictable, but its power lies in that predictability. It is akin to watching a train wreck or automobile crash – one can see it coming but yet cannot look away in simultaneous fascination and horror. While Bruno is almost too naïve to be credible and his mispronunciations appear almost deliberate, Bruno symbolizes the naivety of the entire world in thinking that humanity could never stoop so low. Because of the fact that nothing in the story, except for perhaps Bruno’s childish voice and innocence, is surprising, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a tremendous cautionary tale of the inadvertent damage our behaviors can cause for our loved ones and a blatant reminder on how one’s perception can impact an entire population. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas capitalizes on the horror of the Holocaust but makes it palatable for readers of all ages.
Acknowledgements: Mine. All mine.