The Mockingbirds [Book Review]

Title: The Mockingbirds
Author: Daisy Whitney
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
ISBN: 0316090530
Pages: 352
Year: 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown
Source: Public Library
Rating: 4/5

Plot Summary:

Alex attends the fancy Themis Academy boarding school where the kids are smart and the adults turn a blind-eye toward any unpleasantness. After attending a concert with her friends, Alex is date raped. She has little memory of the previous evening but she knows that she did not consent to sex with Carter. Alex feels she is unable to turn to the administration, her parents, or the police, so, with a little help from her friends, she turns to The Mockingbirds. The Mockingbirds are a secret society that maintain the peace on campus among students and the deeper she becomes involved in her case, the more she sees just how far their reach is.

My Thoughts:

I first heard about the Mockingbirds when Kelly and Michelle read it earlier this fall. They raved about it so much that I reserved a copy immediately (I think I may have been the first person to read my library’s copy – take that teenagers!). I ended up really enjoying the novel and I think it’s one of the better YA books I have read this year.

I love stories that take place at boarding schools. I also love that Alex had such a wonderful support system at her school. Her friends are kind of awesome. They don’t doubt her or blame her for one second. They convince her to do something about it and stand by her the whole time.

I found Alex’s reactions to her situation interesting. She didn’t turn away from the world but she didn’t just jump back into it. She did the best she could to go back to her normal life but, quite naturally, that night comes back to haunt her at times. As the novel progresses, we learn more and more about what really happened that night as it starts to come back to Alex.

The Mockingbirds is an interesting idea. I’m not sure it is realistic at all but it was certainly a unique idea. This brand of organized, vigilante justice takes high school society to a new level. The kids police each other and make sure there are enough checks and balances that everyone is treated fairly. All while disguised as an a cappella group.

Whitney has written a wonderful book here. It was entertaining, thought-provoking, and moved along nicely. She created some unique characters that I grew to like. I would have read it in just a few sittings if my life allowed me.

Here’s a problem I had though. And it’s one of those tiny little things that don’t really matter but I couldn’t get past. Alex is date-raped partly because she has had what is repeatedly described as A LOT to drink and she couldn’t give consent or resist. Upon closer examination, we find out she had three drinks over the course of three hours (and one of the smartypants kids states that she had a blood alcohol level of .08).  Now, maybe this says something about the high school version of me, but is three drinks over three hours really enough to cause Alex to blackout/pass out? And .08 is the legal limit where I live. Which means if you have just a tiny bit less, you can drive. In my experience, people don’t go straight from having the ability to operate a motor vehicle to passing out.  I just wish that maybe she’d had a few more drinks. Silly problem to have with a story, I know. Especially considering the fact that I just accepted the vigilante secret society so easily that obviously would have problems existing in real life. But it was just one of those things I couldn’t get out of my head so I wanted to hear your opinions.

One more little problem. I don’t think all novels need to teach lessons, but I do sometimes feel that YA novels are a little different. It’s great that teenage date-rape victims have someone to relate to in Alex, but I’m afraid that The Mockingbirds might make them think that it’s ok to not go the police/rape kit route and handle the matter on their own. I don’t necessarily think this is any kind of failure or omission in The Mockingbirds, just a concern I had.

BUT, overall I really did enjoy The Mockingbirds and I would definitely recommend it.

Other Reviews: Presenting Lenore; Good Books and Good Wine; The Elliot Review; Chick Loves Lit

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