The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Series: Mockingbirds, #1
Publication: November 2, 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
(332 pages, hardcover)
Summary: Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.
Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.
In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.
My thoughts: From the cover and the description, I was expecting your basic rape novel; heavy, serious, and sad. But I really loved Whitney's take on date-rape. It wasn't as dark or depressing as I'd expected; it was not only realistic, but uplifting. Alex, your typical over-achieving good girl, has always kept her head down, with no real love life to speak of at the moment. Then, one night, she gets drunk, goes too far, and is taken advantage of. Or at least she can't remember giving consent to going all the way. Alex's uncertainty added a layer to the book that was unexpected and really helped me connect to her.
The novel starts with Alex waking up in a bed that isn't her own; she at first refuses to acknowledge what obviously happened, and I liked that she wasn't immediately bent on exacting revenge or hiding from the world. Her denial was honest and added depth. The entire novel had a different spin on it than I would expect from a novel about rape. Alex was a good character because she felt real and her response to everything was also true-to-life. I really liked how she grew and developed. She was the kind of character I honestly missed after having finished reading.
There were three things that really stood out to me about this book, which bumped it up from a good read to a unique, amazing novel. 1.) The Mockingbirds; I love To Kill a Mockingbird and appreciated every one of the references. But even people who hadn't read the novel got a feel of how cool (sorry for lack of a better word) the secret justice system was. It was complicated, yet made sense, and I kind of wish there was a Mockingbirds group at every school. They were just really awesome (in the best meaning of that word).
Moving on; 2.) Alex's life after the rape happens. I know the entire book basically takes place after the actual rape, but I really, really loved how Whitney wrote Alex's reaction. It was the perfect balance of fright and lightness. Her life was definitely changed after it happened, and several things were wrecked for her because of it, but her life goes on. It's not often that books that deal with such a dark subject show that life will go on and things will eventually be okay. Which kind of leads into: 3.) The romance; and not in the typical he-was-so-cute and she-was-so-awkward-but-adorable way. I mean in a it's-great-that-she-learns-that-every-guy-isn't-out-to-get-her. I mean, yes, getting raped is horrible, and should be taken seriously, and I don't blame any girl for being afraid after an experience like that. But I appreciated the fact that Alex moves on and realizes that there are good guys out there, and not to be afraid of the world because of one person.
The characters were well-written. Not as completely developed (excluding Alex) as maybe I could've asked for, but the plot more than made up for it. They definitely didn't fit the regular stereotypical characters, and I loved that. I liked all of the characters I was supposed to like and disliked all of the characters I was supposed to dislike. No complaints whatsoever.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Mockingbirds. It was deep and sensitive, but not overwhelming and too-heavy-to-read-in-one-sitting. It was the perfect balance of seriousness and lightness. I expected something, and got something else entirely, which turned out not to be a bad thing at all. Whitney's writing was good and her plots and characters were even better. Definitely one of my favorite contemporary reads, and I can't wait for the sequel.
Covering the Cover: Simple and intriguing. It's not a favorite but I like it.
Writing: 4/5Overall Rating: 4.9 stars