Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

In Search of Mockingbird

In Search of Mockingbird

Loretta Ellsworth
For ages 12 and up
Henry Holt , 2007   ISBN: 978-0805072365

When she was just an infant, Erin’s mother died, and though Erin is now almost sixteen, she still misses and wonders about the mother she never got to know. Unlike her bigger brothers, Erin is not a jock and she is not popular. She is a bookworm, and she has a passion for one particular book, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A year ago Erin found her mother’s copy of the book in the attic, and she has carried it around with her ever since. Her mother made notes in the margins and her words are the only really connection that Erin has with her.

On the day before her sixteenth birthday, Erin’s father announces that he is getting married to his long-time girlfriend. Though her brothers are happy for their father, Erin withdraws and the mood in the house turns sour. Later that evening Erin’s father gives Erin his late wife’s diary. Erin is delighted and furious when she sees the diary. How could her father have kept the diary from her for all these years?

That very evening Erin packs a small bag, leaves a note for her father, and spends all her Christmas money to buy a Greyhound ticket to Monroeville, Alabama. Erin is going to go to see Harper Lee. Perhaps if she does, she will be able to feel closer to her mother.

Erin does not expect the journey south to be an eventful one, but she is not on the bus long before she meets an exotic dancer called Sedushia who has not seen her son in ten years. Erin encourages Sedushia to try to reconnect with her son, and in the end, she plays the part of a go-between between the woman and her son. Though doing so scares her, Erin remembers how Scout, the narrator in Mockingbird, shows great courage, and Erin draws on this to help her complete her mission so that she can help Sedushia.

Next Erin meets Epp, a young man who is travelling around the country and who has written a computer game and the code to go with it. Epp is a compulsive eater and sometimes Erin does not like him very much. Then, after many uncomfortable hours on the bus, Erin realizes that she might not be able to complete her pilgrimage after all, which is when Epp comes to her rescue. He supports her, and ends up helping her to follow her dream. Somehow Erin, who is so lost herself in many ways, gives other people hope, and they appreciate it.

This is an incredibly powerful book, one that will delight readers who think, like Erin, that To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the greatest books ever written. Readers will be fascinated to share in Erin’s extraordinary journey, watching as she discovers things about herself. They will see how she comes to terms with the fact that she never had the opportunity to get to know her mother, the one person who would have understood her passion for writing and the written world.