Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Daisy Whitney’s debut novel is an outstanding YA novel that addresses the issue of date rape.

The story is set at a boarding high school and features Alex, a junior music major whose one goal is to attend Julliard. The morning after she attends a concert with her friends, she wakes up in the bed of Carter, a member of the water polo team, and has no memory of how she got there or of what happened. It soon becomes evident that Carter had sex with her. Mortified that she had sex with a stranger and can’t remember it, Alex confides in her roommates. They put the name of date rape to what happened to her. They also urge her to seek out the Mockingbirds, a student group that metes out punishment to those found guilty of breaking the school’s code of conduct.

Whitney unfolds Alex’s story slowly. The reader is privy to Alex’s thoughts and, her memories as they slowly begin to return, usually at the worst possible times. Alex, at first, just wants to forget what happen that night, but eventually comes to understand that that she can’t forget the events that occurred. To make matters worse, she must deal with the whispers of her fellow students as Carter spreads his lies about her. She must also endure her self doubts about who she is and how this could have happened. As the last bit of her memory returns, she is horrified. An understanding teacher helps her come to grips with what Carter did was wrong because Alex had not consented to what happened. As she and the Mockingbirds move forward to the trial of Carter for date rape, Alex begins to understand that not saying no doesn’t mean yes.

While this story is about Alex and the effects of rape, it is also a story of the Mockingbirds and how they understand the mores of a high school campus. The Mockingbirds mete out justice in ways that the school’s administration wouldn’t even think of doing. How they effect the guilty party’s cooperation is clever and effective.

This is a fast paced book, a real page turner, that is hard to put down even in the wee hours of the morning. Young women will love this book because Whitney doesn’t sugar coat the facts nor does she dance around the issue of date rape. This should be mandatory reading for every young man.

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