The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Summary: 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 Patrick is date-raped during her junior year, she has two options: Stay silent and hope someone helps, or enlist the aid of the Mockingbirds-a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of the student body.

In this account of a teenage girl’s search for her voice and the courage to use it, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that standing up for someone, especially yourself, is worth the fight. (From author website).

My Thoughts: I read The Mockingbirds in one night, as I was immediately absorbed by the kind of terrifying opening scene–our narrator Alex wakes up in the morning in a strange bed next to a strange boy, both of them completely naked, and has absolutely no memory of what happened to her the night before. She is confused, scared, and uncertain of exactly what to do, but thankfully she has a circle of good friends, a cool older sister, and of course, The Mockingbirds, a secret student society at Themis Academy.

I think Whitney did a perfect job here of portraying the confusion, shame, and fear that comes after an event like this. Date-rape does not fit into the classic stereotype of rape that everyone seems to have, the one where a complete and total stranger holds a knife to your neck and forces you into a dark alley late at night somewhere. A lot of people seem to think that is the only kind of rape that happens, the only kind of rape where the victim is absolutely blameless.

Date rape, on the other hand, is often perpetrated by someone you know, or someone who’s associated with you once or twice to some degree–an acquaintance, a friend of a friend, a co-worker. There are often drugs or (more likely) alcohol involved, a factor that many seem to think makes the victim partly to blame for being raped.

Which is untrue, as Whitney does a good job of explaining throughout the novel. At first, Alex doesn’t believe she’s been raped–and as the reader, you don’t think she has either, because all you have are her thoughts and her memories, which aren’t complete. But things start to unfold, and we learn, along with Alex and many other students at Themis, that “only yes means yes.” That silence should never be taken as consent.

I wasn’t as thrilled with or convinced by the circumstances Whitney built up to explain why exactly Alex did not approach the authorities or the administration at her school to report the rape. I understand it was necessary in order to introduce the Mockingbirds themselves, but it was a little bit loose and didn’t clinch it for me.

I still enjoyed The Mockingbirds a lot and definitely recommend.

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