These and other reviews attest to the literary and educational value of the book. In contrast, no legitimate pedagogical rationale has been advanced for its removal, and it is highly doubtful that any legitimate justification could be advanced, especially for removing the book from the library, the purpose of which is to give students the opportunity to explore books on their own, according to their own interests, views and values.
After a group of students noticed the cover of David Levithan’s 2013 novel, Two Boys Kissing, parent Jessica Wilson launched a book challenge to remove it from FHS’s library. The complaint was officially filed on the grounds that the picture on the book’s cover, which features two boys kissing, violated the school’s policy of no public displays of affection. Furthermore, Wilson was concerned that the book had overt sexual content.
In that article, there's a quote from the challenger:
“The good thing about appealing is that it opens the matter up to public debate,” Wilson said. “It’s not like this isn’t a book that I wouldn’t let my kids read, but it’s the fact that it’s in a school. Books like The Scarlet Letter and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest don’t embrace sexuality. They have consequences, and it’s integral to the story. When you’re a teenager, it’s normal to question your sexuality, your faith, but the school isn’t your nanny; it isn’t up to the school to provide this guidance.”
I'm fascinated by her logic here: she says that the school "isn't your nanny" and that it isn't up to the school to "provide [this] guidance", but it seems to me that in asking for the library to only include stories in which sexual contact has "consequences", that's EXACTLY what she's asking the school to be and to do.
Ten years ago, Corinthe made a huge mistake. Since then, she’s been exiled from her sister Fates, living on Earth among the humans. To earn her way back into the good graces of the Unseen Ones and be allowed to return home, she is tasked with helping humans achieve their destinies: whether that means facilitating meet cutes, making someone late for work, preventing an accident, saving a life...or ending one.
I hadn't read a straight-up chick-lit rom-com in ages, and I'd forgotten just how much fun they can be.
Despite the best efforts of her best friend to convince her to go to New York City with him while he interns at a teen fashion magazine, Libby Kelting is leaving Minnesota to spend the summer before her senior year in Camden Harbor, Maine, interning at the Museum of Maine and the Sea. She'll be wearing 1791-era garb, teaching young campers about the daily life of colonial Americans, and hopefully, in her off-time, spending time at the beach in one of the many (many, many, many) cute outfits that she's dragging halfway across the country with her.
Things she didn't count on: an enormously judgmental, slut-shaming roommate; a uniform for when she's not in costume; a super-hot sailor who spouts Shakespeare and looks VERY nice while chopping wood; getting roped into sharing EXTREMELY cramped quarters with a VERY irritating budding journalist who's on a ghost hunt.
Oh, where to start? I cackled all the way through this one. For instance:
"Listen, Garrett—" "Why do you keep saying my name like it's in air quotes?" he interrupted. "What are you talking about?" I snapped. "You keep saying 'Garrett' like it's allegedly my name." "Maybe because it's not a name, but a small Parisian attic where writers live?" "Oh, as opposed to a brand of canned pumpkin owned by the Nestle corporation?" he shot back. We glared at each other.
Ahahahahahaha. Anyway, she and Garrett are very obviously well-suited to each other, and their sparring is just as entertaining as their inevitable lurrrve-falling. Also, Libby's campers are HILARIOUS.
Libby is a genuine history nerd, and as her focus is on fashion and the domestic arts, there are LOADS of interesting factual tidbits. Also, she's a wonderful example of a character who is a 'girly-girl' AND whip-smart, so yay to Strohm for that. Bonus: When it comes down to it, Libby is perfectly capable of fighting her own battles. Literally. So yay to Strohm for that, too!
Along those lines, there are some great threads about being judgemental/making assumptions about people: because Libby is interested in fashion and in boys, her roommate immediately jumps to the conclusion that Libby is an airheaded moron with red bottomosity. At the same time, Libby judges Garrett for his love of science fiction, so no-one is entirely without fault in that department—which is good, because few people are!
Cam and most of the rest of the dudebros are totally two-dimensional stereotypes. And actually, Libby's bestie Dev is also pretty two-dimensional, but I gave him a pass because he was rad.
PINK-LOVING GIRLS CAN BE SMART, TOO!, or,
Behind the scenes of Austenland, starring YA characters.
Sixteen-year-old Sophie is used to her mother's ups and downs. When she's up, she's vibrant and giddy. She's spontaneous, loves ice cream for breakfast, works tirelessly on her art, throws her cares to the wind.
When she's down, she barely speaks. She barely has the energy to move, let alone get out of bed.
Sophie has been taking care of things since she was eleven years old. Making sure her mother takes her meds, that she eats regularly, that the bills get paid, that her mother's social worker doesn't see any red flags.
One day, she comes home to find that her mother has attempted suicide. She calls 911, her mother is rushed to the hospital, and Sophie goes to live with her extended family for the duration.
Her ESTRANGED extended family.
Everything. I'm not being lazy! I really loved it, full stop. It's a sensitive, empathetic look at how bipolar disorder can affect a family; about the realities of living with depression; about how sometimes people cause more damage by trying to protect one another than by just being honest. It's about how a lack of communication and a difficulty in asking for help can make a hard situation that much harder; about misunderstandings, isolation, and about that moment of catharsis that comes when feelings that have been hidden for far too long are finally verbalized. It's about abandonment, and about how abandonment by a friend can just as painful as abandonment by family. It's about how you can intellectually understand why a person acts the way she does, but still get frustrated and angry, and about the guilt that comes out of that.
I've got nothing. It's a solid read across the board.
It made me cry, but in a good way. If you like contemporaries that deal with meaty issues without being trite, didactic, or manipulative, here you go. I've added Sara Polsky to my list of Must Read Authors.
It’s hard not to wonder why some of the largest voices in the YA world and kid lit world more broadly aren’t speaking up and out in visible ways. They have far less at stake than any author of color (and most women, white or not) would have doing the same thing, in part because their privileged position affords them them their platform. They do not succeed simply because they work harder; they have more advantages. This isn’t just pointed at authors with power. It’s pointed equally toward librarians, toward booksellers, toward major media outlets, and to anyone with a position to say something.
There’s no expectation for anyone to talk about everything. That would be impossible. But in a week where an announcement of an all-male, all-white panel coincides with a wealth of well-written, thought-provoking, and important conversations about diversity and there’s nothing but silence?