Friday, October 15, 2010

The Mockingbirds

First of all I need to make sure we are all clear that this book has nothing to do with the Hunger Games series finale book.

Themis Academy faculty and teachers are brilliant academically-speaking, but are completely blind to what their students really are: teenagers.  For students at Themis, if something goes wrong, seriously wrong they don't turn to the adults, they turn to the Mockingbirds.  Masquerading as a singing group, the Mockingbirds are a student-only group whose mission is to right the wrongs of the student body.  We're not talking about bad study habits or crank calls, we're talking about blackmail and date rape.  Alexandra Patrick is a victim of the latter, and seeks out the assistance of the Mockingbirds to help her stand up to the guy who did it.  After having her sense of self shattered, she must learn who she is all over again.  She must also learn how to speak up for what she wants and to not just stay silent because "The only thing that means yes is yes.  A lack of yes is a no."

While it's not terribly fair to author Daisy Whitney to compare her book to Anderson's Speak, it's unavoidable.  The main characters are very different and so are the story settings, but the emotional grief and confusion that both girls go through are both very realistically portrayed.  Sub-characters are sometimes underdeveloped or left out for what feels like long stretches, but on the whole the book is still one that I think will help many people, not just rape victims, understand what kind of agony this situation is.  So as with all books of a very serious nature, it's hard to say that I liked it (it seems both petty and creepy at the same time).  However, it's an important topic to be addressed and I'm glad there are young adult authors who have the presence and guts to write these books.

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