Monday, December 6, 2010

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

I received this book as an Advanced Readers Copy. I did not receive any compensation for my review.

From the back of the book:

Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quite 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 student s dedicated to righting the wrongs of the student body.

Just as Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak has served as a voice for those who could not or who felt they could not speak for themselves, I believe The Mockingbirds will serve as an encouragement for victims of sexual assault to speak up and stand up for themselves. 

Whitney handles a tough topic with clarity, sensitivity and grace.  She takes the reader through Alex’s story with excellent pacing. Readers’ experience Alex’s range of emotions (shame, denial, self incrimination, fear and finally the strong desire to reclaim herself) right along with her.  The fact that the story has a basis in something that happened to her in college gives the story a feeling of reality .

I truly enjoyed this book. I found the writing to be excellent. I believe it is a book that high school girls should read.  I did have one problem with the story. And it is not so much a problem with the writing as it is with my having to admit that adults, even those in education are not perfect.  I was very bothered the fact that the students at Themis did not feel that could count on any of the adults when bad things happened.   In many young adult novels, adults often come across as rather dumb and clueless, sometimes heartless as well.  As an educator I care very much about my students and their well-being. I would not leave the justice to be meted out by a group of students.  And yet again, I’m not so blind that I don’t realize that there are adults, even educators, who are perhaps clueless and do not give the care and attention they should be giving to their students.  Often bad things happen because those who are in a position of trust are blind or turn a blind eye.   It is some comfort that Alex does eventually find an adult she trusts enough to confide in.

I believe this is an important read for high school and college students of both genders.  

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