by Daisy Whitney
Original Publishing Date: November 2, 2010
Length: 332 pages
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Obtained Via: Bought at Hastings
Format Read In: Hardback
View at the Traffic light:
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.
In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl’s struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone–especially yourself–you fight for it.
Here’s the thing with The Mockingbirds: It’s a brave book that tackles the subject of date rape very well. I thought Whitney was a great writer and all of the aspects of this book that dealt with the event of rape and what happened after, as well as the accompanying emotions, were incredibly well done and heartbreaking. If that was the story Whitney had decided to tell, I would have really liked this book. It would have been hard to digest, but I would have invested in Alex’s(the main character) story.
Where this book went drastically downhill for me was in the inclusion of The Mockingbirds, which was problematic as a reader since that’s the main focus of the story. The thing with the Mockingbird group–the student-led group that hands out justice on fellow students for wrongdoing– is that it just doesn’t work for a rape case. At all.
Some of the the incidents the Mockingbirds mentioned taking care of–like bullying–probably would make an interesting story for the group to right the wrongs. But rape is a CRIME, and I was never going to be satisfied with the outcome of the book when I knew that STUDENTS were determining a “punishment” for the rapist(I use the word punishment lightly there because really, what’s a fitting punishment for rape? Nothing).
Unfortunately, if it hadn’t been for that part of the book, I think this would be a book I would rate very highly. Date rape is a tricky subject to talk about sometimes, because there seems to be an idea that sometimes date rape victims are “asking for it” depending on what they wear(they’re not, by the way), and rape culture tends to obscure date rape in particular, so I think the themes presented in this book are so, so important. There’s a great bit of dialogue towards the end about what consent actually means and the difference between consensual acts and RAPE, which is a pretty big line. So on one hand, I think this type of book is important. On the other hand, I don’t really feel like the “punishment” handed out should EVER be thought to be sufficient punishment for rape. Because it’s not, and I just found that really not okay.
Summary: I’m hesitant to not recommend this at all, because there’s a lot of important issues talked about in this book, and Whitney navigates the after-math of date rape well. What I had a problem with though, is the way the students in her book took it upon themselves to punish a criminal in a way that when found guilty, his punishment did NOT fit the crime. I don’t like the idea of that punishment being thought of as “punishment” because it’s really nothing compared to his crime, and that angers me a bit. 2/5 cupcakes.