It’s Banned Book Week!!! As I may have mentioned in the past, banned book week is a big deal to me.
As Heinrich Heine said, “Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings.” I know that banning a book isn’t the same as burning it, but it’s not far off. Anytime we decide to restrict what others are allowed to read, we are treading into dangerous territory. Reading gives people the opportunity to explore new worlds and ideas and forbidding that should never be an option.
So celebrate your freedom to read this week and check out this list of frequently banned and challenged books to see how many you’ve read.
This year, in honor of banned book week, I read “Go Ask Alice” a book that has been banned countless times since the 1970s. The reasons cited for banning include profanity, explicit references to runaways, drugs, sex, and rape.
This fake diary of a teenage girl explores her downfall by drug use. At the beginning we see a self-conscious girl who isn’t sure where to turn. By the end she’s tumbled beyond society’s ability to help her because of the bad influences by friends. This book rocked the literary world decades ago when teens everywhere thought they were reading an actual diary.
The book has an oddly childish tone and never sounded like a real teen to me. There are too many times when the girl says how wonderful her mother is or how sorry she is for her actions. In my experience, most teenage girls are a bit more critical of their mothers. It felt like something a mother would write to make her daughter scared of drugs.
It was hard for me to take seriously because it just felt so forced. I know that when it first came out people thought this was a real diary and if I’d read it at that time I’m sure I would have had a completely different reaction. But instead I went into it knowing that it was later revealed to be a work of fiction.
BOTTOM LINE: Not my cup of tea. I know a lot of teens struggle with drugs, but there are other books I’ve read that deal with that issue is a more convincing way.
“Sometimes I think we’re all trying to be shadows of each other, trying to buy the same records and everything even if we don’t like them.”
Image from here.