Caitlin has a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome. For her, things like reading and drawing come easily, but making friends does not. Her teacher, Mrs. Brooks, is working with Caitlin to help her understand what friends do. That seems odd, since we mostly know how to make friends and how to talk and act with our friends - it comes naturally. But for Caitlin, its the toughest subject at school. Recess and group projects are particularly difficult.
Reading the story with Caitlin as the narrator made me start thinking about all the people at our school who are different in one way or another. I sometimes wish they had a narrator to explain their thinking.
In addition to all her difficulty making friends and understanding emotions, Caitlin has just experienced a tremendous emotional loss. She and her Dad are devastated, but they don't really know how to help one another. At least not at first. As the story moves forward we see that Caitlin really does have empathy, she just doesn't always respond in the traditional way. We learn that her Dad, though he makes mistakes, is trying to do what's best for her. And we start to see how people we thought were mean and thoughtless were just trying to respond to the emotions around them. When we take the time to carefully observe and listen to others, we can respond with empathy and kindness.
This book was tough to read. There is a connection to school shootings and a lot of sadness. But, it was worth every tear I shed. If you want a book that will help you understand people better, I highly recommend Mockingbird.
We do not yet have this book in our class library, but it is available through the public library system.