November 2010, Little Brown (this an American book)
352 pages, Hardback (my proof copy was paperback)
Review copy received as part of a book tour organised by Good Golly, Miss Holly
Themes: Boarding school life, date rape (a few scenes are a little detailed as the incident is remembered), teen romance, friendships, living in fear, music, justice, tissues are needed,
Summary from Little Brown
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 is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.
In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.
As I type this review, I want to bawl my eyes out. I knew it would be a tough read when I read the premise. And yet I wanted it. I love stories about boarding school, and justice stories. I don't enjoy anyone be forced into something they don't want to do, and then not having justice served. A dear friend of mine was date raped, and for a variety of reasons the offender got away with it. That's a lifetime away for my friend now, for she is happily married. But it's something she'll never forget. I haven't forgotten it. Alex can't forget it. Well, first she has to remember it. Because she doesn't remember a thing about what happened. Understandably she wants to wipe it from her memory and pretend it never did happen. But she can't. Little by little her memories return. She's terrified by them. Her life is severely affected by what happened. I was relieved that she has good friends along side her. It isn't always enough, for memories come at the most inopportune moments.
I am in total awe of The Mockingbirds. They are shrouded in mystery (which becomes clear by the end of the novel). They are always present at the school, but the students don't always know who they are, or all that they are capable all. The support they give Alex is phenomenal. I wish that every person who suffers date-rape has their own Mockingbirds in their life. Alex would have gone to pieces without them. She would have quit school. There's an incident where she nearly gets suspended, but the school has a warped sense of right and wrong. There's one particular incident which freaked both Alex and myself out. I was a little surprised that the culprit didn't pay more because of that extra incident. However, the ending had tears welling up in my eyes, and a big grin on my face. I hope enough people read it and pass it on to their friends, so that people feel that they can speak out.
As 2010 comes to a close, I've been asked to think of my 10 favourite books that I've read this year. It's hard to do that, I tend to think of liking books on levels. There isn't a single thing I don't like about this book. Hands down it is among my favourites of 2010.
You can check out more about Daisy on her website.
For a true account of a date-rape victim whose ending wasn't as happy as Alex's, please read It Happened to Nancy by anonymous (it's the teenager's diary. You will need tissues).