I picked up my latest read simply because I heard rave reviews about it. It’s not my standard fare. There are no aliens, vampires, werewolves, mermaids, or other (allegedly) mythical creatures involved. This book is realistic fiction, and deals with a subject that many people are skittish about bringing up–date rape. The Mockingbirds is a powerful book that demonstrates how much power students can have when they truly decide to stand up for themselves. I think any female, and even male, readers will learn something from this book, especially that the lack of a “no” does not equal a “yes.”
Alex Patrick can’t remember what happened. She knows she was at a concert and she had too much to drink. She remembers flirting with a guy, Carter, but that’s where things go fuzzy. How did she end up in Carter’s room? What happened last night? And why is he acting like they had the time of their lives? Alex isn’t sure what’s going on, but she knows that something has gone terribly wrong.
When Alex tells her roommate and sister about the events of the previous evening, they bring up the worst four-letter word Alex can imagine–rape. But she’s not sure. If she doesn’t remember saying no, is it really rape? Alex doesn’t want to face what happened to her, but after Carter begins telling anyone who will listen about what supposedly happened that night, Alex decides, with the help of a few friends, to take her case to the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who act as the law at the prestigious Themis Academy.
Themis Academy is known for producing Ivy League students. So, of course, the students at Themis are above all of the typical teenage pranks, cruelty, and drama. Most of the teachers and administration at Themis are convinced that their students are above reproach and could never do anything truly horrible. The only thing that gets a student kicked out of this school is failing a class. Well, the students know what really goes on. They know people are bullied, attacked, treated unfairly, and even driven to suicide by other students. That’s why they have the Mockingbirds. If the adults won’t right the wrongs at this school, the students will.
As Alex and the Mockingbirds proceed with their case against Carter, Alex learns more about why the Mockingbirds exist, how the organization was created, and how they really enforce the “law” at Themis. Throughout this process, Alex begins to return to a somewhat normal life: She has a sort-of boyfriend, she is preparing for a huge piano recital, and she’s moving on.
But sometimes it seems as if she’s drowning in what happened to her. She’s remembering more and more and beginning to doubt her decision to go to the Mockingbirds. How can she ever be sure about what happened that night? What will happen at the trial against Carter? Will she always be known as that girl who was raped? Find out the truth when you read The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.
As I said before, this is a very powerful book, and it’s even more powerful when you learn that the author is writing from personal experience. (Read the author’s note at the end for more information.) The connections to To Kill a Mockingbird don’t hurt either. While I was a bit disturbed at how most of the adults were portrayed in this book, I can honestly admit that it’s probably not too far off the mark. From my own experiences in high school, I can say that most of the teachers have no idea what’s going on. Even if they do, there’s not much, if anything, they can do about it. I wish there had been an organization similar to the Mockingbirds when I was in school. Maybe I wouldn’t have been the target of bullies so much.
I really encourage young adults, especially girls, to read The Mockingbirds. It’s a great story, and resources on date rape are provided at the end of the book. I would caution younger readers that this book does contain mature content, so this book may not be appropriate for middle school readers.
For more information on The Mockingbirds or author Daisy Whitney, visit http://daisywhitney.com/blog/, where I just learned that there will soon be a second Mockingbirds book. Can’t wait!