Hi! I was supposed to write a review today, but have nothing to review. Instead, in honor of Banned Book Week, I’ll give a list of some of my favorite banned or challenged books.
I read Deenie by Jude Blume when I was probably in fourth or fifth grade. I loved it. It’s about a beautiful girl whose mother wants her to be a fashion model. She keeps getting turned down because her posture isn’t correct. A doctor finally diagnoses her with scoliosis and she has to wear a brace to straighten her spine. The controversial part? She masturbates. Now, it’s not explicit or anything. There’s a scene where she’s taking a bath and uses the wash cloth to rub at a special place that makes her feel good. I decided that place must be on her back, which confused me because I didn’t get similar feelings. Maybe I was a little too young to read it. But, the story is great and the message is good, and I love how Judy Blume never shies away from showing kids as they really are.
The Hunger Games trilogy came out when I was an adult, but I still love it with all my heart. I was at the bookstore searching for a book that A) had a female protagonist and B) was dystopian. This was the first book I picked up after setting that criteria, and I quickly fell in love. With the violence, stark view of poverty, sexuality, and fraught family connections, it’s been challenged and banned in many places. I remember being surprised by Finnick’s experiences being so explicit in a YA book, but I thought it was very brave and honest. And, it sadly is a challenge that children are facing. Anyway, I think The Hunger Games is a fantastic book series.
I have to admit, I’ve only read the first of the Vampire Academy books, although I do plan on rectifying that one day. However, this book had what I think is one of the best depictions of depression I’ve ever read. It blew me away. This book has been banned because of sexuality and nudity, which is so silly because it’s a book. You can’t see the nakedness. And, besides, what’s wrong with a teenager reading about another teenager being naked? To top it off, the entire series was apparently banned before the series was even completed!
I’m so utterly unshocked by the fact that Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez was banned. Banned for being gay positive, sexually explicit, and promoting homosexuality, Rainbow Boys is frequently targeted by parents. Which is a shame. When it came out, there were only a handful of books about that featured gay protagonists, and I think this was the only one that explored how desperation could drive even a child with a sex-positive mother to make risky choices. Now, I admit: when I reread it again a few years ago, I didn’t love it as much as I did the first time I read it. But it’s still an important book to because it shows a variety of gay young men with different personalities and how relationships at that age can work and be a positive thing.
Okay, I have to get to work, so I’m leaving this list here, even though I could include a dozen others. What are some of your favorite banned or challenged books?