When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn't do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that's been given to her, she's now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.
It isn't rape. It isn't bullying. It isn't hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don't add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.
As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected.
Publication date: February 6th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The Elliott Review:
What I love most about this book is its idealism. As a teacher, it melts my heart to think of a group of students dedicated to nothing but simply doing the right thing. The fact that they have to do this because their school turns a blind eye to everything causes me to take a look at how I deal with things within my own classroom.
The Rivals picks up the year after the events of The Mockingbirds take place. Alex is still with Martin and still coming to terms with the date rape that she was victimized by the previous year. She's focused on trying to become a survivor and to lead the Mockingbirds to do right by other students just like they did with her case.
The mystery of who is behind the ring of drug-taking cheaters is Alex's to solve, and with the Mockingbirds and their motives being questioned and challenged, the stakes couldn't be higher. Alex finds herself in question more than she would like, and the problem is that she doesn't have any easy answers. Again, these are questions that someone with a high moral code would wrestle with, and I love the fact that this book wrestles with these issues.
The subject matter and themes of this book are heavy, but it is an engaging read that I would recommend to anyone, idealists especially.
Young Adult Notes:
Date rape, drug abuse, slurs against sexual orientation, mild violence, and mild language.
Source: Thanks to Little, Brown for making this title available in exchange for a fair review.