Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Release Date: November 2, 2010
Amazon SaysSome 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.

I say:
You guys.
This book? This book is amazing. It is going to win awards. People are going to love it. I loved it. It sends you on a whirlwind of emotions and doesn't let go of you until it's over. And here's the thing -- it felt so real.
Normally, books about such dark subjects are a touchy subject. They can be too dark, too preachy, too much to be real. The Mockingbirds wasn't at all. Alex is a wonderful protagonist. She's talented, smart, sarcastic. She's everything you want to be. But something awful has happened to her, and you hurt with her. But you also get to watch her heal.
The book starts out at the scene of the crime, but Alex can't remember anything. The event of the rape comes back to her through out the book. Normally, I don't like flashbacks. But the way Ms. Whitney pulls them off is not only effortless, but it keeps the awfulness of Alex's situation from rising up and swallowing you by splitting up the sad moments. It also makes it all the more powerful, because not one chapter throughout the book do you forget what happened.
If you get one thing from this review, though, I want it to be this; this book isn't depressing. I tried to explain it to a friend and she rolled her eyes, told me she didn't read books 'like that' -- she then went back to reading Moby Dick. She's worse off for that. The Mockingbirds is not 'that.' It isn't all dark. It's realistic and gritty and yes, awfully, horribly sad, but it's a story about redemption and healing. But, see, Ms. Whitney tells is way better than I just did, so you laugh and grin and roll your eyes at the fantastic dialog. You love her sister, her best friends -- Maia was my favorite, but that's because she's a debater and I'm biased -- and you fall in love with the boy you want Alex to be with. 
This book is honest. It's real. Teachers aren't always there for kids. It's sad and sick, but the administration can't always save teenagers -- even in places as 'perfect' as themis. But Alex's peers step up. She steps up. Her friends step up. And it turned out to be a really great book.
And best of all? If this had actually happened to me, or to someone I knew, or really just any girl, I think it could help them heal.
More later


Emma said...

Books like this are sosososososo important. Seriously, you don't get how important unless this has happened to you or someone you love. My friend went through an experience like Alex's. it's awful, revolting. She was so upset and I couldn't help. No one could because we hadn't been through it. If a book can help someone get through it then it's a miracle. Thank you to Mrs. Whitney for writing the book and thanks Sam for highlighting it.

Sam said...

Emma: I'm so sorry for your friend, so sorry for everyone affected. I can't even comprehend how awful that experience would be. What's the statistic -- one in three girls? It's awful, and I agree with you -- any book that can help is amazing.
Don't thank me, though; I didn't do anything. Ms. Whitney deserves all of the credit.

Stephanie Perkins said...

I want to jump up and shout, "YES! EXACTLY!!"

This is my favorite contemporary release this year, for all of the reasons that you mentioned. I love that it's about the healing process, and I love that it's funny and charming. It's an unusual—and very, very welcome—take on the subject. I'm so happy that you liked it as much as I did!

Sam said...

-blinks a little bit more-
Sorry. I'm having a slight fangirl moment. Ahem. It has something to do with the fact that your book is on my sidebar and I kind of really want it. Moment calming.
That was my favorite part of the book! I closed it and wasn't sad, wasn't depressed, wasn't heartbroken. I was like YES, girls can heal and become whole again, and YES, just because something bad has happened to her, Alex doesn't sink into a corner of emo hole and never come out. I feel like forcing everyone in the world and especially every high school girl to read this book.