Kathryn Erskine’s protagonist, Caitlin, describes a variety of qualities which could place her on the autistic spectrum: Caitlin is sensitive to smell, will only wear clothes consisting of certain materials and colors, has trouble deciphering the intricacies of speech , requires the tracking of her progress with social skills such as MANNERS and interpreting facial expressions, is able to memorize most things very well, and she is a gifted artist. Erskine includes an excess of traits, perhaps, in order to make the point that Caitlin has Asperger’s, and to illustrate exactly what the disorder entails. The author’s exaggeration of the number of traits one individual with the disorder would most likely possess is successful if intended indicate several ways a person with Asperger’s is different . Still the result is an often times inaccurate magnification of traits exhibited by a person on Autism Spectrum. By placing every single trait under a microscope for dissection, the author runs the risk of reader misperception that all people or children with Asperger’s think and act similarly. Still, Erskine does an impeccable job not making the story about Caitlin’s differences by creating a constantly changing and ripening plot, in which Caitlin’s Asperger’s is only a part.
Caitlin Smith is very dependent on her school counselor Mrs. Brook; she sees her every day for lessons in socials skills, behavior regulation, and perhaps most importantly, she is a mediator between Caitlin and her Dad. The family lost the most special person in their lives to a school shooting, Caitlin’s older brother Devon. To make matters even worse, Caitlin’s mother died of cancer two years before. So, when Caitlin asks Mrs. Brook where exactly she can find closure, as if she can pick it up somewhere, her counselor knows what the young girl does not, that Caitlin must first be able to distinguish the tangible from the intangible in order to grasp the concept and process her brother’s passing. But, once Caitlin decides she needs to find closure, due to repetitive instincts which are driven by stressors triggered by her disorder, she cannot stop thinking about the word and what it means to her. Continue reading