Monday, October 4, 2010

Banned Books Week Wrap-Up

I didn’t think I’d have the time, but I managed to read two books last week for Banned Books Week.

The first, as you know, was Go Ask Alice. It’s about a girl in the 70s whose life took several turns for the worst after she was unknowingly slipped LSD at a party. It’s supposed to be an Anonymous diary (as in non-fiction), but there’s much speculation that it was actually written by the “editor,” who edited several such books in a short period of time.

This book has been banned for drug and sex activity, but anyone who thinks it promotes drug use may be on something themselves. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

While I don’t think this book should be banned, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone – but not because of the themes. Because it’s poorly written – which makes sense if it’s supposed to be from a drug-addicted teen. But still, it was kind of annoying. In fact, for writers, it serves best as an example of how weak adjectives/adverbs can cripple your writing.

The second was Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which I thought was fantastic. I honestly couldn’t figure out why this was on the list, so I had to look it up: The protagonist discusses masturbation.

OK, I guess. Once. But – if we’re being honest with each other – what teenage boy doesn’t? It makes him real, helps the reader (especially if he’s a teenage boy, which aren’t huge readers to begin with) connect with the character.

This book is about a kid who makes great sacrifices for one thing: to get a better education. He loses his best friend, occasionally walks 22 miles to school, suffers the hatred of (almost) his entire reservation, soldiers on through a string of deaths in the family – all because he doesn’t want to end up an alcoholic and far below the poverty line like everyone else around him.

People want to silence this brave message because of a few lines discussing something that every high-school freshman already knows about?

Banned Books Week is over now, but I hope that doesn’t end the discussion.

My message to book banners:

  • Preventing everyone else in a community from reading a fantastic book because you’re uncomfortable with some subject matter is a crime against humanity.

  • Taking lines out of context to support your claim is deceitful and reprehensible. Sometimes, it’s absolutely horrifying. (Looking at you, WS of Republic Missouri)

  • I understand (most of the time) why you don’t like the book and why you don’t want your children to read it. Isn’t it nice you got to make that decision for yourself and your kid? Let other parents make the decision too.

  • If you’re really into banned books, move to China. I hear they love censorship over there.

What did you read in honor of Banned Books Week?

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian sounds terrific. I'm adding it to my wish list.

    btw, your link is broken. I'm not sure, but you may need to include http:// to link externally.

    Nice new blog. Is this Wordpress? I'll eventually switch over too. (I'm disappointed you no longer link to me, though.)