We're honored to have her here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where four of the top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Here's René, reviewing The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney. (Ages 14 and up. Little Brown, 2010).
"The Mockingbirds takes place in a boarding school. Themis is a quiet school, people are expected to behave honorably, but when something horrible happens and you can’t go to the school, what do you do? When music student Alex is raped after a concert where she had too much to drink she has no idea what to do. She is embarrassed, feels like it was her fault, doesn’t want people to know, she doesn’t feel as if there is anywhere to turn. When the boy starts to spread rumors about her, The Mockingbirds step in to help. They are a secret group dedicated to righting the wrongs perpetrated by students on students that the school can’t or won’t take on.
"The Mockingbirds deals with a harsh issue but one that needs to be taken on. More women than you know have to deal with this issue and, even though we are given the right to say no, between one thing and the other, NO doesn’t happen. When Alex wakes up in the morning and doesn’t have a clear idea how she got naked, she begins to feel sick and when she sees the condoms in the garbage she feels ashamed. She doesn’t know how she got here and can’t remember anything. Over the course of time, snippets of the night before come back, and with each memory she becomes more and more depressed. When her friends finally pull the reason out of her, they take steps to help her to deal with it.
"It’s a hard book to read, but an important one. We still don’t talk about sex openly, we hide it away and when it happens, whether by choice or not, it often becomes something that is distasteful and shameful and it is almost always the girl who gets hurt. Maybe this book will help girls become stronger, maybe it will help us figure out how to keep it from happening, maybe it will keep us from being embarrassed by something we didn’t instigate, want, or need and start the discussion about staying safe." -René