31 Jan 2013

REVIEW: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Title: The Mockingbirds (The Mockingbirds #1)
Author: Daisy Whitney
Publication Date: January 2nd 2012
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback
Pages: 332
Rating: 5/5

Blurb: 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 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.

Review: When picking up this book I didn’t really know what to expect- the cover keeps you the opinion that it might be a light contemporary but the summary tells you the exact opposite. Neither of these things could have prepared me for what I was about to read.

From the very first moment, everything is put into place and I found myself being dragged into the world of Alex Patrick. Soon enough Alex and her friends realise that she has been date-raped by Carter, a member of the water-polo team. It’s from there, with the help of her friends and older sister, that Alex decides not to give up and let Carter win, but to take it to the Mockingbirds- a student council that punishes students who harm other students at Themis Academy.

For me, the Mockingbirds were an interesting concept. I’ve never read another YA book that has the idea of a student council with the power and resources to bring their fellow students to justice. While I wasn’t entirely sure how this was going to work, I was happy that it wasn’t exaggerated too much or unbelievable in any way. The tactics the Mockingbirds used were believable, usually small things that managed to bring down the wrong-doers. This obviously added to my enjoyment of the novel.

Of course, one of my favourite elements of the book were the characters. I liked each of the Mockingbirds for different reasons and I liked how they all fitted together perfectly to make the group. Alex, her two best friends T.S and Maia and her older sister Casey were awesome and I especially liked how they all stuck together to help Alex through that really difficult time. Of course, I hated Carter and the people who stuck up for him, as you are supposed to.

Another favourite factor of mine was Alex’s love for music. I think Daisy Whitney used it as a really powerful tool especially when Alex felt like she’d been betrayed by Beethoven, but still was able to find comfort in other composer’s works. I think it’s very important that Alex was still able to play piano despite everything that had happened to her- it’s a way of telling girls to push through.

Daisy Whitney’s own experiences of being date-raped when she was at Brown University, definitely made this book a more frightening prospect. A little reminder that this sort of thing actually happens to girls and a pleading message to them to stand up for themselves and for others, which is definitely a very powerful message to be getting out but also an important one.

I don’t think this a book I’ll ever forget, the flashback rape scenes were terrifying and those words and images I think will be forever imprinted inside my head. I think this is why I enjoyed this book so much- it made me think about everything, about whether I could stand up for myself or my friends like Alex did. I’ll admit that after finishing this book I had to sit there and just think for a while- I could hardly move or stopping shaking from what had happened, even now as I write this review I feel exactly like I did the moment I finished the last page.

This book might seem daunting, let’s be honest no one is ever really comfortable reading or hearing about rape, especially of teenage girls and especially if you are of the same age as Alex, but I think it’s a book that teenage girls need to read. We need to understand that yes, sometimes we should keep quiet about things, but other times we really need to speak up and defend ourselves and our friends.