- Reading level: Young Adult
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (November 2, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316090530
- ISBN-13: 978-0316090537
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.
I picked up a copy of The Mockingbirds at ALA this summer, and I've been trying to wait patiently for it to release. I "met" Daisy Whitney on Twitter a couple of months ago, and I think she's one of the nicest people I've ever talked to, so when she mentioned that her book was about date-rape, and that she had experience date-rape herself, I knew this was a book that was going to be important.
The story starts off in the midst of things, when Alex wakes up in a bed that isn't her own. She doesn't know how she got there, and she's not even sure what the name of the boy she's laying next to is. At first she gets angry at herself, thinking that she must have gotten too drunk and just made a stupid decision, wondering how on earth she could have done something so rash when she was a virgin who had always said "no" in the past. But with the support of her incredible friends and sister, she realizes that what actually happened to her was date-rape, and that it was wrong. Unfortunately, Alex attends Themis boarding school, where everything is perfect and no student ever does any wrong, so finding support from the "powers that be", just isn't going to happen. That's when she turns to The Mockingbirds, a group of students that are fed up with the way injustices are dealt with, or rather not dealt with, by the teachers, and have come up with a way to deal out a justice of their own.
So often when I talk to teens about "issue" books, especially ones that deal with rape, they appreciate what the book was about, but think that the book is really depressing, or even boring. (I know that sounds harsh, but teens are honest....that's what I love about their reviews!) The thing that makes this book (that deals with a horrible act of violence) different, is that it isn't like that at all. While Alex still deals with the trauma, the guilt, the self-hatred, and the fear of a victim of rape, she is also just the "girl-next-door." She's funny, caring, resilient, and loves the piano and her friends. Although she is deeply affected by what has happened to her, she doesn't let it become her. I think a lot of that has to do with her inner strength, and a lot also has to do with the fantastic support of her friends. When she couldn't face the hard things, they were there to face them with her. I LOVED her friends!!
I also found the concept of a student-led justice system fascinating. Just imagine the change that could occur if students banded together and stood up to things like bullying, cheating and the like in high schools. The effect could be amazing. Not to say that I think that Alex made the right decision, not going to the police, I don't. Rape is far too serious an issue to not press charges against. But if she didn't feel like she could, at least there was a support system that she did feel comfortable with.
I loved the idea that The Mockingbirds got their name from To Kill A Mockingbird. Whitney used little pieces from the original book as procedures and secret codes for the group. I thought this was so clever, and just added such a fun and exciting twist to the book.
The only thing that I didn't care for was the amount of language in the book. There are a lot of teens and parents that ask us about book content and I would hate for teens to not be able to read this book because of the language that is in it. I know that Daisy wanted to keep it relate-able to teens, but it's such an important issue, that I would hate for it to be missed by anyone because of the language. It seems like there aren't really any books out there that deal with these issues that don't also have a lot of language or other content in them, and although there are a lot of teens out there who won't be bothered by this, there are also teens out there who don't use profanity, and don't want to read it, who could really benefit from reading this book, and that makes me sad.
End of Soapbox :)
Overall, I really loved this book! I thought Daisy did an amazing job of explaining what a girl who had been date-raped was feeling. I felt like I could have been in her shoes (which I know I could have been). The amazing thing about The Mockingbirds is that it is a heartbreaking story that is also funny, sweet, sad, encouraging and most of all, hopeful.
You might like to know: This book obviously deals with the difficult subject of date-rape. There are some somewhat detailed scenes describing the rape. There is also quite a bit of profanity. For more details, go to The Mockingbirds on Parental Book Reviews.