Dear Kathryn Erskine,
Oddball. Weirdo. These are names they call us. The kids with disabilities. The outcasts. Some people use overly happy voices and cheesy smiles. I can see right through them. When will I be free?
Caitlin and I live in separate places in the U.S.A. Her story is fictional, while I have a new chapter for every day. Yet we are tied together by one thing: a mental disability. Where she has Asperger's, I have NLD ( Nonverbal Learning Disability). Every day I have to carry around a clipboard with my behavior sheet. It tracks my every move, like a reality show camera. Like a mustang in a pen. I either have to accept my fate, or risk something worse. People want to change me like they wanted to change Caitlin. At first, I was rebellious, thinking they would change me into an overly happy social skills zombie. After reading Mockingbird, I realized that, while people can try to help my behavior, they can never change who I truly am. Like the mustang, I have learned to accept.
When I read Mockingbird, I had recently lost many pets. I missed them all, but especially Apple and Tess. I looked okay on the outside, and I mostly was, but deep inside, I had this fear of death. Then, I read Mockingbird. I learned that death and loss are things that we can't avoid, and it's okay to be sad, but in time, we must move on. It helped me with my grief. Not a day goes by that I don't miss them, but I'm not crying like I used to. Your book helped me move on. Other kids sometimes underestimate us. They stay away from us or tease us. I think this is because they are scared of us or think we aren't smart enough to notice. They are wrong. Many famous people had learning disabilities. Kids need to learn to accept each others differences so we can understand each other better. Inside, we all have an inner superstar, capable of great things, just waiting to be unleashed. Teasing sometimes has an effect on keeping it suppressed. Your book is helping change that. I believe that with each reading, more kids realize that kids with disabilities can change the world, and that they can, too.
Thank you for writing this book, so that we can all understand each other better, and that more inner superstars are unleashed.