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The Mockingbirds Paperback – January 2, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

“Silence does not equal consent. . . . The only thing that means yes is yes.” When Alex, a junior at Themis, a New England boarding school, wakes up naked in a boy’s bed, she doesn’t immediately realize what has happened during the previous drunken night. As fragmented memories return, though, she begins to understand that what happened was date rape. With the encouragement of her friends and older sister, Alex submits her case to the Mockingbirds, an underground justice system inspired by Harper Lee’s classic novel, in which Themis students investigate and try crimes committed against other students. Whitney, whose author’s note discusses her own teenage experience of date rape and its aftermath, is a seasoned journalist, and she writes with smooth assurance and a propulsive rhythm as she follows Alex through the Mockingbird’s trial process and its accompanying emotional storm of confusion, shame, fear, and finally, empowerment. Authentic and illuminating, this strong debut explores vital teen topics of sex and violence; crime and punishment; ineffectual authority; and the immeasurable, healing influence of friendship and love. Grades 9-12. --Gillian Engberg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Praise for The Mockingbirds:
* "First-time author Whitney boldly addresses date rape, vigilantism, and academic politics in an intense and timely novel... Besides showing skill in executing suspense and drama, Whitney masterfully evokes the complexity of her protagonist's emotions, particularly her intense longing to feel 'normal' again."
Publishers Weekly (Starred review)

"[Whitney] writes with smooth assurance and a propulsive rhythm as she follows Alex through the Mockingbird's trial process and its accompanying emotional storm of confusion, shame, fear, and finally, empowerment. Authentic and illuminating, this strong debut explores vital teen topics of sex and violence; crime and punishment; ineffectual authority; and the immeasurable, healing influence of friendship and love."―Booklist

"Extraordinary...Shocking and eye-opening, this book is hard to put down."
The Guardian

"Puts a compelling and ingenious twist on everything you think you know about sex, violence, victimhood, justice--and the true meaning of power."―Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay

"Raw and riveting. Deserves a place of honor...alongside it's soul sister, Speak."
Justina Chen, author of North of Beautiful

"In The Mockingbirds, Daisy Whitney has written an unflinchingly honest story about the importance of taking a stand and speaking out. An emotionally powerful debut that will leave readers breathless."―Courtney Summers, author of Cracked Up to Be
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (January 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316090544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316090544
  • ASIN: 0316090549
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,092,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on September 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
They say to write what you know and the author's blurb says Daisy Whitney was date-raped in college. That is probably why her portrayal of the aftermath of a rape feels very real. This is the author's debut novel and it is worth reading.

After drinking too much and waking up in the room of a boy she barely knows, Alex feels extreme guilt and shame. But she listens to her friends when they convince her that even if she did drink too much, it doesn't make it okay for a boy to have sex with her while she's passed out. Alex's rapist, Carter, is a popular water polo athlete at Themis Academy. He and his friends snicker about her in class and in the common areas until Alex ends up eating her meals in her room and taking different routes to her classes. But Alex has good friends, especially her new friend Martin, who stand by her and make sure she always has an escort to classes and sometimes bring her food in her dorm room.

At Themis Academy, the students are held to high standards. The problem is, the academy seems to think that just being accepted into the school makes the students above reproach. The students don't feel like there is any real justice system. That's why, years earlier, Alex's own sister created a secret group called The Mockingbirds. Their name comes from To Kill a Mockingbird. The group consists of students of all grades and has built-in checks and balances to assure fairness. They listen to evidence and declare the defendant guilty or innocent. This system can only work, of course, if both parties agree to accept the ruling of the Mockingbirds.

Alex's roommates convince her to take her case to the Mockingbirds. In the weeks leading up to the trial Alex becomes close to Martin, her roommate's boyfriend's roommate.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Mockingbirds deals with a tough subject matter in date rape, but I'm glad I read it because first time author Daisy Whitney handles the subject matter with sensitivity, skill and honesty, while introducing us to a cast of well developed teen characters. It's really a story about justice as the main character Alex, hesitant to go to the authorities, seeks the assistance of a secret student society called The Mockingbirds which investigates student complaints and holds trials. In the end, what Alex really needs perhaps more than justice is regaining her sense of self, something she struggles with throughout the book as she also has to get through her junior year at an elite high school. I particularly liked the very carefully handled romantic subplot that played out post-rape and how Alex tries to overcome what has happened to her. Also the detail presented in Alex seeking solace in her music, she's an accomplished pianist, was quite lovely and touching.
The writing is tight, the plot moves along quickly and I think it's one of those YA books that will cross over to many adult female readers. This also has the feel of a potential series the way the ending is set up. It earns a five stars from me as I rated it in relation to how quickly I wanted to finish it based on the writing engaging me, how original I thought the story was and how it stacked up to other YA novels.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Grade: B-

After Alex is date raped at the prestigious Themis boarding school, she seeks help from The Mockingbirds, a student run, a secret underground justice group. With the help of her friends, The Mockingbirds, her sister and a potential love interest, Alex struggles to reclaim her sense of self and safety.

THE MOCKINGBIRDS isn't your typical date rape novel. Alex tells her roommate immediately after the incident, who immediately calls it rape, avoiding the secrecy of many stories where the victim/survivor keeps the assault to herself, suffering in silence for half or most of the book. That alone was very empowering. As Alex grew from a meek, passive girl into a true survivor over the course of the story, she became more nuanced and layered. I enjoyed the supporting characters, though they lacked depth and complexity.

Daisy Whitney has a pleasant, readable writing style. Her words didn't wow me, but they kept me interested. Her writing was best in creating the tension of Alex's memories and flashbacks. While the whole concept of the not so secret Mockingbirds was fun and engaging, I wish there had been some discussion of going through legal or school channels. The potential consequence of being forced to quit the water polo team for the crime of rape is woefully inadequate. Whitney, a date rape survivor, exaggerated the deterrent effect of The Mockingbird punishment on the perp and other potential perps. I didn't really buy into the concept of those who commit crimes and misdemeanors accepting the authority of The Mockingbirds.

I recommend this novel because it takes date rape seriously and Alex, for the most part, avoids the cliché of blaming herself I've seen in so many other books. However, neither the characters nor the story are particularly memorable and I doubt they'll stay in my head for long.

THEMES: date rape, boarding school, secret societies, drinking, romance
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