Friday, 18 February 2011
Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Publisher: Little, Brown
Released: November 2nd, 2010
Grade rating: B-
Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
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.
I was looking forward to reading The Mockingbirds for months, and I can't help but say I was a little disappointed. I found it difficult to get into and hard going, thanks to my dislike of main protagonist Alex. Of course I felt bad for her and sympathised with her horrible situation, but I just never warmed to her. I thought my opinion would change as I got further into the book, but unfortunately it didn't. She just didn't engage me as a narrator, and I never picked up on the chemistry between her and Martin, which was a shame as I do think they were an overall good fit.
The parts of The Mockingbirds that were good were really good, especially the last 100 or so pages when things kick off for Alex and Carter, the boy accused of her date rape. I couldn't stand him; he was a loathsome character. He thought he was above everything and clearly didn't understand that sex is a choice, and requires an uttered "yes". The trial scenes that took place were gripping, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. The Mockingbirds themselves were also a fantastic idea, as I love secret societies and that whole sense of camaraderie between the student body.
Where The Mockingbirds didn't work for me was in the justice system. I know from reading the author's note at the end that she experienced date rape herself, and had to go through the University Disciplinary Committee in order to press charges. Things don't work the same over here: if you're raped, you generally go to the police. For that reason, I couldn't wrap my head around not going to the authorities with a crime that disgusting. Yes, Themis Academy saw itself as the perfect school, but surely even they wouldn't have overlooked something as serious as rape? In the past I've known people who have gone through a similar ordeal, and each time the police or guardians were welcomed and involved. Without the option of being protected by them, what's left for us? Secret societies are all well and good, but do they really serve the punishment needed?
As you can see, I kinda liked The Mockingbirds, but I did have some problems with it. I will say that the writing was brilliant and I admire debut author Daisy Whitney for tackling such a difficult, but important, subject. She has my utmost respect for speaking out and raising awareness of date rape, and for that I think this book deserves to be read and heard by teenagers everywhere.