22 November, 2010

The Mockingbirds - Review

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Publication date: 2 November, 2010 by Little, Brown
ISBN 10/13: 0316090530 / 9780316090537

 YA realistic fiction
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Justice, Date Rape, Recovery

Find the synopsis on goodreads.com.

How I found out about this book: 2010 Debut Author Challenge at TheStorySiren.com

Quickie: I had a hard time rating this one... In the end I loved it, though I had a hard time getting started.
But when I finished, I immediately wanted to read it again, which is a sure sign that I liked it above average. As an issues book, it hit all the right notes: empathy for the main character, exploration of all the what-ifs and what-nows, and sensitive but realistic resolutions. As a novel, it did the thing I always look for in a five-star-book: kept me up till dawn.

My review: The premise is what I found initially intriguing: Alex seeks out a semi-secret student council called The Mockingbirds to help her when she becomes the victim of date rape at a private boarding school adept at turning a blind eye to the wrongdoings of its students. The novel is based partly on true events that happened to author Daisy Whitney during her freshman year of college. (There's a great interview with her on Drinking Diaries--I highly recommend reading it *after* you read the book, or if you don't plan on reading it, this might change your mind.) I thought it was going to be more about The Mockingbirds--like they are some kind of vigilante justice league--but really, it was all about Alex and how she handled becoming a victim.

I really enjoyed the secondary characters, especially as Alex is not that likeable during the first part of the book--pitiable, yes, but not until she starts showing some backbone (not to mention brains, eventually unclouded by alcohol) did I really get in her corner and cheer her on for the rest of the book. But I immediately liked everyone else--her roomies, her sister, and the other people who befriend and support her during her ordeal. Really, it is their love for Alex that makes me love her, too.

(I can't tell you about my favorite character... too spoilery. But if you read it and want to know, comment or email me and I'll tell you. I'll gush. You won't be able to shut me up!)

The Mockingbirds themselves aside (though wouldn't it be nice to have a conscientious and powerful agency such as this in our real lives?), Whitney also provides resources for rape victims at the end of the book. She doesn't preach and overdramatize. She doesn't blame the victim, though the victim, for quite a large portion of the book, blames herself! Overall, it's the realism in this cautionary tale that makes it more than just a scary story--it's an in-depth analysis of the emotional aspects of being a victim; the process of healing and recovery; and the problems, solutions, and choices available to someone who experiences this in the real world. 

Who should read this book: There are some graphic descriptions of intercourse, as the subject of the book warrants, and Whitney can be credited with finding just the right wording and cadence to arouse nothing but the worst unease in the reader as Alex begins to recall flashbulb memories of the rape. So parents of younger readers will probably not want to let them read this book--unless you are reading together, or God forbid, the young reader has been raped or molested; in this case, I highly recommend seeking understanding through reading. I am not a therapist, but in my experience, reading accounts (fictionalized or not) about difficult topics like this one do offer a measure of relief and healing in certain contexts, and I am sure that what drove me to read it is one of the things that drove Ms. Whitney to write and publish this book. 

Author photo from Goodreads.com author page.

The Mockingbirds is Daisy Whitney's first novel. (Book 1 of The Mockingbirds series)

Find the author at daisywhitney.com, on Twitter @daisywhitney

Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/mkgbrds1
Find this book on goodreads.com.

What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!) 


  1. I borrowed and returned this book, but I want to own it!

  2. This one has gotten a lot of press but I don't own or haven't read yet.....Yet is the key word!
    Thanks for the review ♥