The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
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.
Here’s the Scoop:
Alex attends the prestigious Themis Academy, a boarding school for high achievers. She awakes early one Saturday morning to find that she’s not in her own bed. Beside her is a boy she doesn’t know (Carver? Carter, maybe?) and she’s completely naked. She tries to slip out unnoticed, but the boy awakes, asking if she had a good time last night, confirming that yes, they had sex—not once, but twice.
Throughout the next day, Alex tries to piece together her foggy memories with those of her friends who were with her the previous night. She’s never been a drinker, never been the wild child, and until her experience with Carter, she was a virgin. Slowly she realizes that though the few drinks she consumed may have impaired her judgement, surely it didn’t make her want to throw herself at some perfect stranger from the water polo team. But he’s telling everyone that’s exactly what happened. It takes those closest to Alex to help her admit the scathing truth: Seeing her highly intoxicated state, Carter coerced her to his room and took advantage of her in the worst way possible. He raped her.
Enter The Mockingbirds, a group that is somewhat of a secret society on campus (they tote themselves as a singing group, though most students know the deal). They offer to hear Alex’s case and to possibly bring Carter to trial amongst their judges—his peers. They offer Alex a certain amount of protection and encourage her to fight the boy she believes has harmed her. Though Alex would almost prefer to melt into the crowd at school and forget the whole incident ever happened, she can’t. Everyone knows, only they know Carter’s tainted version—one where Alex was apparently “begging for it.” It’s up to Alex to stand up for herself and through the Mockingbirds she finds the courage to do it.
This is Daisy Whitney’s debut novel and it’s pretty powerful stuff. The subject matter is a little difficult, mostly because Carter is such an incredible, disgusting tool, but the detail is not too, too graphic. There are some cringeworthy scenes, told in the form of flashbacks, but it only helps to solidify the idea that the absence of “yes” means “no.”
Alex is a realistic protagonist in that, like anyone, she tries to talk herself out of the truth. She doesn’t want to acknowledge the reality of what happened because it’s just too devastating. Thank God for the amazing support system she has in her friends. They help her piece the story together and remind her that she did nothing wrong. And The Mockingbirds…they’re brilliant. Taking inspiration from one of the greatest novels of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird, they are devoted to righting injustice and defending the innocent. Whitney makes a few great references to the book and its characters and takes Alex’s story from one about a victim to one about a girl who fights back.
The author’s notes at the end of the book are especially interesting, wherein she explains her inspiration for the novel and the idea behind the Mockingbirds. Don’t skip that part. It’s worth checking out.
Crush Intensity: 4/5 Such a good story. A sequel is coming out in the Fall of this year (I can’t explain why that would be pertinent to Alex, but it is).
I swallow hard. How am I supposed to tell them what happened? I can’t even say the word myself, let alone out loud. I close my eyes and wish Casey were here to speak for me. But instead the voice I hear belongs to T.S.
“Alex went out with a group of us Friday night and we were drinking and she got really drunk and wound up back in this guy’s room, Carter Hutchinson’s room. And she passed out. And he had sex with her twice,” T.S. says, her voice threatening to break, but staying strong as the anger cements. She has her own anger over this, just like I have my shame.
I open my eyes and look away from them all. I watch the clothes, wet and clean in the washing machines. The dirt removed, they’re new again. Like I can be, if I let them help me.