09 July 2011

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

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 Patrick is date-raped during her junior year, she has two options: Stay silent and hope someone helps, or enlist the aid of the Mockingbirds—a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of the student body.

In this account of a teenage girl's search for her voice and the courage to use it, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that standing up for someone, especially yourself, is worth the fight.

I wanted to be very careful with this review because of how different and unique it is from all the other YA books I've ever read.  I've seen books described as "inspirational" and "it teaches you blahblahblah" and I'd go and read them and…not be inspired.  I'd be depressed.  I wouldn't feel any victory when the main character finally learned to trust herself, nor when the dirt bag got what he deserved.

I didn't put aside this book for anything less than meals or sleeping.  I was attached from page one and I'm still holding onto it.  I had a $25 gift card from Amazon and I used some of that to buy myself a copy of The Mockingbirds.  This is a book I want on my "favorites" shelf next to my desk.

This isn't a "Last Friday Night", Katy Perry type of story.  If it taught me anything, it's the human capacity for hurting others.

The Mockingbirds wasn't a pity-party type of story.  Alex was a fleshed out character.  She laughed, cried, raged.  Every page wasn't dominated by what had happened, but it was realistically always in her thoughts.  I loved reading how she grew as the story progressed.  The romance built in was well done because it showed the ability to choose.

Something I noticed right away was how packed with character and atmosphere the first few pages were.  I had an instant understanding of Alex's character and how things stood at Themis.
Three things I know this second: I have morning breath, I'm naked, and I'm waking up next to a boy I don't know.

And there's a fourth thing now.  It's ridiculously bright in my room.  I drape my forearm over my eyes, blocking out the morning sun beating in through my windows, when it hits me—the fifth thing.

These are not my windows.

Which means this is not my bed.

My head pounds as I turn to look at this boy whose name I don't remember.  He's still asleep, his chest moving up and down in time to an invisible metronome.  I scan his features, his nose, his lips, searching for something, anything that rings a bell.  A clue to connect me to him.  But remembering last night is like looking through frosted glass.  I see nothing.  But I can hear one word, loud and clear.

Excerpted from hardcover edition, pages 1-2

I loved the whole book. I can only appreciate this book from a creative and literary standpoint—I myself have never been in such a situation as this.  For those who have, I can imagine how this must have struck home.  Carrie Harris's post speaks very well about how Daisy Whitney has written a fantastic book.  This book should be taught at schools and assigned as summer reading instead of the garbage most schools make high school kids read.  Teenagers suffering in silence might actually learn to find the courage to speak up by reading The Mockingbirds rather than Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.

Book Info:
  • pages – hardcover, 332
  • published – November 2010
  • publisher – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • genre – contemporary fiction
  • received via – library
  • rating – 5/5