06 May, 2010


So many books. So so many. I have no life.

Lois Lowry's first novel, if you can imagine. Really good, touching book. Of course, about an introverted, awkward girl. All books I read are about introverted, awkward girls. It's true! Because they are all good. No, that's not true at all. But the fact is, most of us introverted, awkward girls grow up to be writers.

NO MAKING FUN OF ME ALLOWED. I loved this book. It was a big departure from the usual books I read, because instead of being about an introverted, awkward girl who grows up to be a writer, this book is about an introverted, grief-stricken girl who is not awkward who grows up to date a broody artist type guy, but is not one herself. Still, it was a great read.

This book taught me a lesson that actually had nothing to do with the book itself. It taught me that I could fall in love with a book halfway through. Until about one hundred pages into this book, I was still feeling pretty "eh" about it, and almost returned it to the library without finishing it. Then something in my mind just clicked and I couldn't get enough. I finished it in like two days. It is a really amazing book, just starts out kinda slow. Supposedly like the best Mexican-American book of all time. It was pretty interesting. And it was about (wait for it) an odd introverted kid. It doesn't say (INVERSE SPOILER ALERT) what he grows up to be, though.

The next two books will require some explanation, I think.

I am doing this new thing where I am working my way through the American Library Association's list of banned books for the years 1990 - 2000. I plan to work my way through the last decade, and then 2000 - 2010. It's been a fun exercise so far.
Of the top thirty-five, I have already read the following:

Fantastic book. Simple and beautiful. My favorite Steinbeck by far.

Mediocre. Actually, really boring. Full of really descriptive sex scenes that still manage to somehow be boring. Can you believe it? I can't.

Another work of genius. Anyone who bans this book is an idiot.

I cannot fathom why someone would ban this book. I guess it has ONE very mild sexual reference, and it a really sad book, but it also like, achingly beautiful. When I am a teacher, I plan to read this book to my students.

Yeah, yeah, it's a book about witches. Boo hoo, Christians.* Roald Dahl is still a genius.

Why do people hate this book? Because it deals with math? Or possession? Again, I guess the book is a little scary at parts. But it's also super uplifting. However, I recognize that I am biased because Madeleine L'Engle is my hero.

Poor, poor Lois Lowry. She can't even write a sweet little novel about a quirky teenage girl who moves to a new city without folks getting their panties in a twist. Sheesh. I guess this book could be considered offensive because the parents are kinda liberal and mention the ACLU? Otherwise, I am way stumped. I should say that the parents in this book series are my fictional role models. Artist mom and professor/poet dad? Yes please.

Well, this book does have a really sad rape scene at the beginning of the book that would make me hesitant to read it to a child under the age of, say, eleven. But ban it outright? No way. It's a book about wolves. AN ESKIMO GIRL WHO CHILLS WITH WOLVES NO PUN INTENDED. It's an AWESOME book. People can be silly sometimes.

Life-changing. Has anyone not read this book yet? If not, stop reading right this instant and go read it. It's short, it will only take a few hours. I'll wait.

Have you finished Bridge to Terebithia yet? Good.
Man, I love that book.

So anyway, this entire treatise will explain why I just finished reading this book:

Because my mom was a biologist and a liberal, my brothers and I grew up with a reasonably healthy, open attitude about sexuality and biology. We had lots of books about sex when I was growing up, but I totally wish we had owned this one as well. I imagine that it was banned because of its frank discussion of masturbation, homosexuality, and lots of other stuff that makes people uncomfortable, but I thought the overall tone was respectful about the sanctity of the human body, while still being honest about real issues, without being condescending. Also, one of the best explanations about sexual abuse that I have ever read in a book meant for teenagers. It even has some elements of humor worked in (not into the part about abuse, obviously, but elsewhere). I would highly recommend this book to parents for their adolescent children.

Speaking of homosexuality, this book is essentially "Heather Has Two Mommies" but starring a little boy with two gay dads. He also has a divorced mom who seems to have adjusted to the whole thing quite well. I thought this book was harmless, but also kinda boring. I guess if the whole idea was to drive home the point that homosexual couples do all the same boring everyday things that heterosexual couples do (pay bills, make dinner, etc) then mission accomplished. I wouldn't buy this book for my kids, but I wouldn't be upset if they read it, either.

*Um, JK. I love Christians.


theFinn said...

Why would anyone ban James and the Giant Peach?

cassie said...

i got a book on children's literature that had a chapter on banned books, and gave some of the silly reasons people came up with to ban books. like, parents didn't like bridge to terabithia because it would make their kids confuse fantasy and reality.

also, parents hate the great gilly hopkins not because of the fact that she repeatedly steals from a blind man or is openly racist, but because she says damn, hell, and bitch.

and the best one: a community in california wanted the lorax banned because it gave loggers a bad rap (it was a logging community).

cassie said...