This gripping page-turner shows how easily date rape can happen, its effects, and why victims have trouble coming forward. When Alex is date-raped in a dorm room at her boarding school, she's plunged into feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and doubt. The details come back to her slowly, as the rape happened while she was drunk. Did she ask for it? Is everyone talking about her now? Will she ever be her old self again? THE MOCKINGBIRDS clearly shows the ripple effect rape has on the life of the victim. The story is built on the premise that Themis Academy doesn't discipline students because the school's reputation would be tarnished should anyone learn of rapes, bullying, or cheating. This is taken to an extreme that's hard to believe, but it sets up the need for the underground justice group, the Mockingbirds. When Alex decides to take her case to the group, she learns about their methods and their supposedly fair way of dealing with complaints. The Mockingbirds claim not to be a vigilante group, and yet they take some minor action against the accused before the case is heard. They do, however, hear both sides in a trial of peers, giving both sides the opportunity to make their cases and bring evidence.
The book is a fast, enthralling read. Alex's decision not to tell the school, the police, and her parents can be upsetting, but this is a realistic look at what many victims go through. She is a relatable character, and her point of view carries the book well. It's easy to feel everything she's going through. Aside from Alex and her two roommates, who are supportive and endearing, most of the characters are not as well fleshed out. As Alex's case with the Mockingbirds gets underway, her character grows and she finds her voice, stands up for herself, and learns that it's important to help those in her community as they helped her.