Happy April, you guys! Can you believe it’s April!? Did any of you get pranked for April Fool’s yesterday?
Today we are diving into another BOOK REPORT, a feature that we share every month. We both read the same book, chat about it, and post it here. With minor spoilers, we introduce The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney [website | twitter]
Release Date: November 2, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: Library books for M & E.
How we found out about it: We saw a lot of buzz surrounding the sequel, The Rivals, which just came out on 2/6/2012
Summary: Alex attends a prestigious boarding school that churns out highly educated, future world leaders. Unfortunately, they don’t have a system in place for when bad things happen, like Alex being date raped, because they feel their students wouldn’t do such things. Alex doesn’t feel like she can go to the police because she was underage drinking. She enlists the help of the student run group, The Mockingbirds, to help solve her case and punish Carter.
Magan: Hey, E! So for this month’s Book Report, we chose a book that’s a few years old, The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney. (She has a sequel The Rivals that piqued our interest that was released in February 2012.) I’m so excited to talk about this book with you!
Estelle: Me too! Not only is it one of the older (ha) books we’ve discussed but a book with the most serious subject matter.
M: Yep! It’s a book about a girl named Alex who is date raped. She calls on the Mockingbirds to protect her and bring about justice because she’s too scared to go to the police. What did you think of the Mockingbirds (the team, not the book overall…yet)?
E: I think it’s hard to talk about the Mockingbirds as a group without getting into the overall environment of this boarding school. I liked how Alex called it a “Candy Land of a school”. The institution believed that because they were churning out future world leaders and successful human beings… nothing bad ever went on there. No bullying, no drama, nothing. It’s just so crazy to me. So the fact that Alex’s oldest sister took it upon herself to create this group to help students who find themselves in horrendous situations with literally NO support from the school was just appalling and amazing to me at the same time.
M: I guess I was a little taken aback by Alex’s fear of going to the police and seeking adult help. It was explained very well why she chose not to, but it was definitely sickening that the school leaders would have turned their heads at the situation. I think this is also a really common occurence for people who are date raped – they feel so terrible that something so bad could happen to them and they’re caught up in not being sure what to do because all they want is to forget.
E: In Alex’s situation, though, she had been drinking a lot. She was underage. And she couldn’t remember anything, which was terrifying.
M: Oh, yeah – that was a big part of her story as well. I was so thankful she had her sister and her best friend, T.S., to really encourage her to take action. They let her know that even though she was drinking, Carter had no right to do what he did. I loved that Whitney really explained that no answer does not equal or imply a yes.
E: She definitely kept bringing that up in one way or another and I absolutely loved that. Her message wasn’t after school special like or annoying… it was just so true. And I think Alex was the perfect character to sort of bring light to a message like that. Especially using her strong connection with music to show how this one night sort of overflows into her passions, her daily life, and possible future.
M: The music aspect was a really awesome parallel. Probably one of my favorite subplots. It really showed me what life can be like for someone who has gone through this – how it infiltrates your everything.
E: I also think Whitney did a great job with this constant teetering Alex experienced with her emotions. Deciding to talk to the Mockingbirds, running into Carter, certain experiences bringing back memories from that night… she was sometimes feeling confident in her decision to talk to the Mockingbirds and sometimes shying away from her life. It was a very realistic account of someone in this situation, and it also really helped me connect with her. Even if I wasn’t sure what she was going to be feeling from one day to the next.
M: YES! And throughout the time she’s enlisting the help of the Mockingbirds, she realizes a friend, Martin, is involved with them. How did you feel about this boy and the role he played?
E: My God, I loved him. When he first showed up in the book, I wrote his name in my notes. I just felt like he would play some kind of important role in the book. And he was sort of like this geeky and supportive friend that she never paid much attention too. I liked how his character slowly became more complex as the book came on. I’m a huge Martin supporter. (Even if he was a science geek.)
M: Science geek aspiring to be a future doctor. 🙂 I’d go for that. All joking aside, I really liked the look into what it’s like to try to start a new relationship and how conflicting those emotions can be when you’ve been so emotionally damaged and physically taken advantage of. I had no clue.
E: I feel like no stone went uncovered when it came dissecting this particular situation. How it affected her physically, mentally, emotionally, her relationships with her friends, her sisters, the other kids in school, and then of course, Martin. Whitney never made the book feel preachy or over dramatic, and I think there’s definitely a fine line when it comes to a subject matter like this. With kids who are pretty young.
M: I think that’s mostly in part to Daisy experiencing this when she was in college. When I read that in the author’s notes at the end, I realized why I connected with the story so much – there was so much truth. In the beginning of the book, things were a little slow-going for me (because she was struggling with remembering and making a decision about what to do), but once the Mockingbirds (and Martin!) were introduced, I was hooked.
E: I agree. This is definitely a situation where the author’s own experience brought a stark and frightening authenticity to the book. I wasn’t expecting to feel so attached to these characters and this story for some reason. I’m not sure why. Maybe just because the plot is so different than most of the other books I read. But I literally felt like I was transported into another world pretty much from the moment I opened to the first page. Especially once the story moves along and the Mockingbirds take over, wow. I wished I had another 45 minutes in my train ride or I could successful read while walking because I didn’t want to press pause on this book.
M: The Mockingbirds kicked ass. I was impressed by how well this part of the story was developed. This is where Whitney’s imagination came into play and she did a really great job of building this team of students. I liked the pacing and how they took their time investigating to set up their next move. Nothing felt rushed or irrational to me.
E: I wrote “intricate machine” in my notes. I was also amazed by this world and organization she created. I admit. I had my doubts. Why would students listen to a student run organization? Maybe I’m jaded. But they seriously had their ways.
M: So there’s a scene where the trial is finally happening. I don’t want to say more than that, but this was probably one of my very favorite parts of the story. I loved how things unraveled, and even that Whitney didn’t set the trial up to be easy. There were complexities because, afterall, Alex was drinking. What stands out most to you as being a favorite part of the story?
E: I feel like everything I want to say is spoilerish. How about this — there are at least three discoveries that occur throughout the book that I loved and were very helpful to Alex coming to terms with what happened to her. That’s really unspecific, I know. But I think once you pick up this book, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
M: So the question is, will you read The Rivals – the sequel to The Mockingbirds?
E: I immediately requested it from my library once I finished The Mockingbirds. So the answer is a big fast yes. I’m interested to see how Alex’s world continues.
M: So am I! I hope my library has it since it just came out. If not, I’m adding it to their wishlist of books to buy!
E: We can only hope that everyone who stumbles upon this Book Report is interested to pick up The Mockingbirds if they haven’t already. It’s definitely worth moving up your TBR list! (And if you’ve read it already, we’d love to hear your reactions in the comments as well!)