Thursday, November 4, 2010
Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
When Alex gets date-raped at her prestigious Themis Academy, there’s no one in the jaded administration that she feels comfortable turning to. So instead, she brings her case to the Mockingbirds, a student-run justice system.
A book as impactful as Daisy Whitney’s debut novel comes along only once every few years. THE MOCKINGBIRDS is at once tender and empowering, clear-cut and sensitive. It’s the kind of book that needs to be read by everyone, yet doesn’t scrimp in the important qualities that make up good literature.
I would say read this for the mere fact that EVERYONE should be educated about the personal and societal consequences of date rape, but it’s also more than that. Yes, the book’s subject is one that everyone should be aware of: through Alex’s story, we learn about the rights of the survivor, the emotional maelstrom in the aftermath, and even the guilt and self-hatred that survivors falsely put upon themselves. But all of this is done in a smart, non-preachy manner. It’s really Alex’s story, Themis Academy’s story, and not just a pedagogical tool with interchangeable characters and side plots. Everything comes together in a way that makes it cohesive not just within the story world.
THE MOCKINGBIRDS makes its impact not just by its important subject but also by Daisy Whitney’s writing style. All too often a book will try to make an impact with an explosive issue, forgetting, in the process, to still develop characters and write in a way that makes us readers care and invest. THE MOCKINGBIRDS does not force us to wade through unnecessary descriptions or artificial relationships: each and every character has a role, has a story, and helps Alex. The book deals with its difficult subject in a no-nonsense manner, and while this can sometimes make Alex feel a little underdeveloped, so all-encompassing her date-rape case seems to be, it also makes her the “everygirl,” one whom readers will be able to relate to and empathize with, regardless of our own experiences.
THE MOCKINGBIRDS is one of those books that should be assigned reading for all teens. If everyone could be educated about date rape through Alex’s experience, the world could truly be a better place.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - I think it looks incredibly classy. I initially didn't like the color change from red to the current blue, but after seeing it in person, it doesn't even matter; it's perfect the way it is. :)
Little, Brown / Nov. 2, 2010 / Hardcover / 339pp. / $16.99
ARC picked up at BEA.