Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Banned Books Week... Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green... #1 Banned Book 2015

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

WHY? Challenge Looking for Alaska?...

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking; sexually explicit; unsuited for age group; offensive language

Challenged in a Wisconsin school district's libraries due to sexual content (2014). Challenged in a New Jersey high school for mature content (2013). Removed from class reading lists in two Tennessee school districts due to sexual content (2012).

Personally I haven't read Looking for Alaska, so I can't comment on what the big deal is. I did read a small paragraph leading up to the "oral sex" part that caused all the controversy and can understand why some parents may not wish their child to read this. But we are talking high school kids, who I'm sure are pretty savvy when it comes to sex and drugs, or at least know more than some parents give them credit for (or want to acknowledge)And according to the author, John Green, just looking at the "passsage" itself, with no relation to anything else is what creates the problem.

“In context, the novel is arguing really in a rather pointed way that emotionally intimate kissing can be a whole lot more fulfilling than emotionally empty oral sex.”

Sharon Browning does a great review of Looking for Alaska on Litstack, and in her closing she writes...

"I asked my daughter – who has read every single John Green book ever written to date, despite reading being difficult for her – if she felt at all compelled to be like the kids in the book when she read it at age 14, and all she did was give me “the look”.  Later she told me that she can identify with a story, or even characters in a story, without needing to be those characters.  That goes for her friends, too.  And in fact, she told me, Looking for Alaska did more to warn her off risky behavior than entice her into following their example.

Sounds to me that John Green was right.  We need to shut up and stop condescending to teenagers when it comes to making assumptions about we think they should and can read.  Thankfully, that was the decision of the Depew School Board, when they voted unanimously to reject the challenge and allow Looking for Alaska to be taught in the 11th grade English class there." You can read the full review and commentary on Litstack.

In response to the challenges to Looking for Alaska, author John Green made this video...

Though I plan to read Drama for Banned Book Week this year, I am going to pick up a copy of Looking for Alaska to read also. If I don't get a chance to read it for this years banned book... there's always next year (or next week!)

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