Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What I'm Reading Now (and urge you to read too!)

As I begin to emerge from my Thanksgiving-induced coma, it occurs to me that I didn't blog yesterday and, as a result, have not yet written about the most amazing book I just finished. As my dad would say, I shall sum it up thus-ly: Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds should be required reading in high school. This story about date rape at a posh boarding school provides an important lesson on what constitutes date rape while, at the same time, deftly exploring the emotions of the victim that range from confusion to shame to empowerment and recovery.

The school is presented as an elite school where the administration believes that the student body is unflinching in their adherence to the Themis code of conduct (somehow this makes me think of the Winklevoss twin in the movie The Social Network who refused to hire a thug to maim Mark Zuckerberg or a lawyer to sue him because "We are men of Harvard"). Since the administration refuses to acknowledge that any wrongdoing could ever be wrought by a Themis student, there are no systems in place if a student misbehaves. It turns out that some Themis students are, in fact, so perfect that they developed a peer review tribunal of sorts to deal with the alleged behavioral transgressions to which the administration turns a blind eye. The teen protagonist, Alex, appeals to this tribunal, the Mockingbirds, whose perspective on justice channels both Atticus Finch and Boo Radley.

The book is clearly and beautifully inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird and evokes the classic novel elegantly (much the same way Rebecca Stead evoked A Wrinkle in Time in the 2009 hit/2010 Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me).

Date rape is a serious offense that parents need to responsibly discuss with their kids, both from the perspective of teaching proper behavior and from the perspective of educating and empowering possible future victims. Daisy Whitney has written a readable road map that engages and grips the reader and gets to the heart of a critical matter.

On second thought, The Mockingbirds should be required reading in high school and required reading by parents of teens.


  1. This post reminded me of a news story I read last week about a new ad campaign called Don't Be That Guy:

    It also made me think of Inexcusable by Chris Lynch, a NBA finalist a few years ago. I haven't read it yet, but it's on my to-read list along with The Mockingbirds.

  2. Thank so much for your comment and the reference to the article. I hope the awareness program it references gets a tremendous amount of attention and is, in turn, emulated in other places. It's reassuring to see a community come together like the Edmonton community and recognize the importance of education and information in setting the right course.