This is the September selection for the APDO Book Club, and, to be honest, I wouldn’t have chosen to read it otherwise - I really dislike issues-based fiction and avoid it if I can.

At least in this case the author is writing from a place of some knowledge. Kathryn Erskine lives in Virginia, and was local when the school shooting at Virginia Tech took place. Her daughter, like the narrator of Mockingbird, has Asperger’s, and Erskine says she was interested in the ways families reacted after the school shootings - and particularly how they were explained to children with special educational needs.

The book is well-written and well-paced, covering a lot of ground in its 151 pages. I think the author achieves everything she set out to, so it’s definitely worth three stars. However, the genre of necessity is quite heavy-handed in pointing out the issues - that’s what I don’t like about it - and Mockingbird sticks within its conventions. If you like issues-based fiction, you’ll probably love this book. I don’t, so while I can see the author’s skill and tell it’s a brilliant book of its kind, it, and other books like it, just aren’t for me.

This month, my fellow APDO Book Club organiser, Nicola Austin, selected three fiction books with neurodiverse lead characters and asked members to vote for their favourite. Mockingbird won hands down, and led to a lively discussion on Autism, its representation in fiction, and our experiences working with clients living with it.

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