Today we have a guest post from Kathryn Erskine…
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
–To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
It’s a phrase my mother often said to us growing up, To Kill a Mockingbird being one of her favorite books. She said that if nations’ leaders followed that wisdom, there’d be more understanding in the world. It’s one of my favorite books, too, but I wasn’t actually thinking of it while writing my story about Caitlin, a young girl with Asperger’s, who has lost her brother, her key to understanding the outside world. I had created a family with a widowed father, an older brother who worked hard to be good and please him (he was even a Boy Scout on the leadership fast track), and a girl on the autism spectrum who saw the world without filters which, as it often does, can lead to behavior that appears awkward and rude. Caitlin’s voice tugged at me, her fresh, frank voice, reminding me of something. When I realized that she reminded me of Scout in Harper Lee’s novel, I was struck by my story’s similarities — a widowed father, the “good” older brother who tried to teach his sister to behave properly, and the young girl who spoke her mind. That’s when I decided Caitlin’s brother would nickname her “Scout,” because his sister reminded him of the character in the movie and the book. Of course, in To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout is much younger than Caitlin, which is why she hasn’t yet developed those societal filters. In Caitlin’s case, it’s because of her Asperger’s. I realized other similarities, too. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, my novel is also about tolerance and understanding. Walking in other people’s shoes is something literal and foreign to Caitlin but in practicing that wisdom she begins to understand her world a bit better. When we take that walk with Caitlin, hopefully, we do, too.
To find out more about Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird and to download some book club notes about the book visit www.usborne.com/mockingbird