November 1, 2010

Why I want my daughter to read The Mockingbirds

On Friday evening, I headed to the bookstore and bought Daisy Whitney's new novel, The Mockingbirds. By 1AM, I had blazed through its pages and had breathlessly finished the book. 

All I can is this: the book is powerful, honest, and just plain good. Even though I don't have kids, I plan to read this with my future daughter because the issue of rape is something that we need to talk about. Frighteningly, 1 out of every 6 American women will be a victim of sexual assault.

In the novel, high schooler Alex Patrick has too much to drink one night and wakes up in the morning next to a guy she barely knows. Even scarier, she slowly realizes that the guy had sex with her while she was passed out. Consumed by guilt, Alex wants to forget what has happened but her friends convince her that she has been date raped. They urge her to enlist the help of The Mockingbirds, a secret society at their private school that's dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow students.

When I finished the book, I had one thought coursing through my mind, "Teenagers need to read this. They need to read this right now." Why? Because when I was a teen, I always thought rapists lurked in dark alleyways and shadowy parking lots. They were older, sleazy guys with slicked-back hair and a leer on their lips. They looked scary and dangerous. 

Thus, I could avoid them.

But the truth of the matter is that 73% rape victims know their assailants. It can be a friend or a neighbor or a relative or a boyfriend. In Alex's case, it was a student at her school--an athlete who shared a class with her. He wasn't old and scary looking. Instead, he played water polo. He didn't attack her in an alley or a parking garage. Instead, he took her to his dorm room after a party.

It scares me to realize that this sort of thing happens every day on campuses like Alex's school. And it scares me even more that victims often blame themselves for what has happened ("But I drank too much." "But I let him into my room.") Yet, I take comfort in knowing that there are supportive women (and men) out there like Alex's friends. Even though Alex put herself in a bad situation, her friends never let her take blame for the assault. They tell her it's never okay for a guy to sleep with a girl who is physically unable to give assent. They tell her that rape is rape is rape.

Man, it really terrifies me to become a mother one day...but at least I have a book like this on my side. Because of The Mockingbirds, I'm going to have some meaningful discussions with my kids.

Thank you, Daisy, for writing this.

*Statistics found here and here.


  1. this book sounds awesome and terrifying all at once and I'll be buying my own copy when it comes out over here!

    I loved reading all your thoughts on this :)

  2. Nomes, I hope it comes out in Australia soon! It's really a great book and I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it! I always love your book reviews. :)

  3. wow, those stats ARE terrifying. I wonder if anyone I know will let me borrow this book ... ;)

  4. Caroline, I'll read it right away. Being a mother is one of the most terrifying experiences in the world and I feel the same as you. Knowledge = power in many cases and the more you can arm yourself, your children and their friends against the many faces of evil, the safer we will all be. Good post and thanks for the recommendation.

  5. I've heard so many good things about this book and I agree, on subject alone it is a must. Those stats are horrifying but unfortunately too true. And it's so important to talk about it.

  6. Wow, it sounds like this was an intensely powerful book. I will definitely pick it up when next I see it. (Although it might not be until I get back to the States, alas!)

  7. Lynn, I'd be more than happy to lend it to you! Next time at CPK then? :)

    Lindsay, I'm going have to pick your brain once I start having kids! Just from reading your blog, I get a sense that you're such a great mom. I need you to teach me how you do it!

    Marieke, I hope you get the chance to read the book! Definitely let me know what you think of it!

    Meagan, I hope it gets published over in Australia!

  8. So glad you read it and loved it! I thought it was amazing and yes if I have a daughter I will definitely read it with her. Actually I'll probably read it with my son, I think boys could enjoy it and learn from it too.