Book Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

6882274Title: The Mockingbirds
Author: Daisy Whitney
Series: The Mockingbirds #1
ISBN: 978-0316090537
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: November 2, 2010
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Realistic Fiction / Contemporary
Pages: 339
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: 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.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  The Mockingbirds is about date rape. The story begins with Alex waking up naked in Carter’s room with no memory of what happened the previous night. With her friends’ help, she goes to The Mockingbirds, a secret student run police force. The Mockingbirds are The Law amongst the students. In addition to taking Alex’s case on, they help protect her from Carter.
Alex begins the story a victim of a terrible crime. Over the course of the book, she slowly regains power over her life. She even acknowledges the fact that she’s letting the rape take over her life. Her schedule, eating habits, and personal life were all dictated by Carter. The Mockingbirds helped her get over all of that.
Martin, a member of the Mockingbirds, really helped Alex. Even though he somewhat blamed himself for what happened to Alex. Actually, many of Alex’s friends blamed themselves for what happened to her, even though it was no one’s fault but Carter’s. Martin was so sweet. I really liked how the romance in this book wasn’t overpowering. The rape and Alex’s transformation were the main points in the plot. The romance was more of a compliment to the story; it wasn’t necessary but at the same time it was much appreciated. Of course, their relationship wasn’t easy. Alex was raped, so its only natural for her to be hesitant about having a relationship with a guy. However, since Martin and Alex were good friends before she was raped, it wasn’t as difficult as it could have been if he was just some guy that asked her out.
The Mockingbirds was so wonderfully written! The dialogue was never awkward or choppy; it flowed nicely. The plot was well developed and it too was well paced. My favorite part, though, was not the plot but the actual writing. Ms. Whitney’s own experience clearly influenced her writing. By writing The Mockingbirds through Alex’s point of view, the reader can feel what Alex feels on a much more personal level than if she had written it in 3rd person. Ms. Whitney also uses quotes and draws inspiration from To Kill a Mockingbird. After reading The Mockingbirds, I want to go back and re-read To Kill a Mockingbird.
The Mockingbirds is a thought provoking novel involving rape and a girl’s decision to take a stand. I was reluctant to read it at first, mostly because I’m not a huge fan of serious books. I read to get away from all that. But I couldn’t help the fact that almost every review I read praised the book to the point where I said, “I might as well…” So far I’ve read the book twice, and loved it both times.

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The Mockingbirds (The Mockingbirds, #1)

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Book Review: My Antonia by Willa Cather

Title: My Antonia
Author: Willa Cather
Series: Great Plains Trilogy #3
ISBN:  1583485090
Publisher: New Millennium Library
Pub. Date: 1918
Source: Paperback
Genre:  Classics, Historical Fiction, Realism
Pages:  232
Rating:  3/5

From Goodreads: It seems almost sacrilege to infringe upon a book as soulful and rich as Willa Cather’s My Antonia by offering comment. First, published in 1918, and set in Nebraska in the late 19th c., this tale of the spirited daughter of a Bohemian immigrant family planning to farm on the untamed land (“not a country at all but the material out of which countries are made”) comes to us through the romantic eyes of Jim Burden. He is , at the time of their meeting, newly orphaned and arriving at his grandparents’ neighboring farm on the same night her family strikes out to make good in their new country. jim chooses the opening words of his recollections deliberately: “I first heard of Antonia on what seemed to be an interminable journey across the great midland plain of North America,” and it seems almost certain that readers of Cather’s masterpiece will just as easily pinpoint the first time they heard of Antonia and her world. It seems equally certain that they, too, will remember that moment as one of great light in an otherwise unremarkable trip through the world.

Ántonia, who, even as a grown woman somewhat downtrodden by circumstance and hard work, “had not lost the fire of life,” lies at the center of almost every human condition that Cather’s novel effortlessly untangles. She represents immigrant struggles with a foreign land and tongue, the restraints on women of the time (with which Cather was very much concerned), the more general desires for love, family, and companionship, and the great capacity for forbearance that marked the earliest settlers on the frontier.

As if all this humanity weren’t enough, Cather paints her descriptions of the vastness of nature–the high, red grass, the road that “ran about like a wild thing,” the endless wind on the plains–with strokes so vivid as to make us feel in our bones that we’ve just come in from a walk on that very terrain ourselves. As the story progresses, Jim goes off to the University in Lincoln to study Latin (later moving on to Harvard and eventually staying put on the East Coast in another neat encompassing of a stage in America’s development) and learns Virgil’s phrase “Optima dies … prima fugit” that Cather uses as the novel’s epigraph. “The best days are the first to flee”–this could be said equally of childhood and the earliest hours of this country in which the open land, much like My Ántonia, was nothing short of a rhapsody in prairie sky blue. –Melanie Rehak

My Reveries and Ramblings:  My Antonia by Willa Cather is about the friendship between a boy, Jim, and an immigrant girl, Antonia.  Willa Cather’s novel deals with issues such as immigration, suicide, prejudice, and unrequited love.  My Antonia is a charming coming-of-age story set in the late 19th c.  The characters are realistically written.  The story is narrated by Jim and is a compilation of memories from his childhood and young adult life-mostly revolving around Antonia.

To be honest, I did not want to read this book-mostly because it is a realist work.  I’m not a huge fan of realism-I find it quite depressing.  I still wonder why I decided to take a class on American Literature that concentrated on Realist works. Since I had to read and write a paper on a realist work, I was dreading it.  But it truly surprised me.  I did not expect to like it at all.  I recommend you read this if you like classic American Literature.  Even if you don’t, it’s still a good read; and by far my favorite of all the books/short stories I had to read for that class.  I give it 3/5.

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My Ántonia

The following is a clip from the movie (and yes, that is Neil Patrick Harris as Jim)