Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

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. - from Goodreads

This book picks up the discussion where Speak left off. It's really meant to educate young men that a lack of the word "no!" does not equate to a "yes."

You see the purpose of this book on p. 103 when the main character Alex, says the following:
I've thought about rape before. I pictured it happening to me. A dark alley, some rough guy I don't know who's five times my size grabs me and forces me to my knees, a knife to my throat. Sometimes I'd picture it happening in my house while everyone was asleep. He'd come in through my window and hover above me. I'd be startled awake, pinned down in my own bed, everything I know that's right in the world ripped out of my chest.

That is rape.

I know rape is something else too. It's just I always thought of it in a very specific way - with a very specific kind of attacker - not in a way I'd have to defend, not in a way where I'd have to preface everything with "I was drunk, really drunk."

This book is rife with great discussion points and was inspired by Whitney's personal experience in college. It would be an awesome book club selection and an even better in-class read for high school students.

I do have one criticism of the book, which is that the Mockingbirds' sense of justice, while fair and understandable given the circumstances at the school, did not feel plausible to me. At the same time, the plausibility of The Mockingbirds was not the purpose of the book. The discussion that it spurs and the new understandings that it will bring to a generation of teens is far more important than whether or not The Mockingbirds' mission could ever happen at a real boarding school.

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Published: November 2, 2010
Pages: 352
Genre: Realistic fiction
Audience: YA

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