Two books have recently been removed from the Republic, Missouri High School curriculum and school library: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. See GalleyCat and the Christian Science Monitor for more information.
While reading comments at newspapers can be painful, in the case of this it can be illuminating. People provide further information on the process, other parts of the backstory, and many speak up in opposition to what happened. See here and here, articles from a local paper, The Springfield News Leader.
Sarah Ockler’s book was removed because “feedback for “Twenty Boy Summer,” available in the library, focused on “sensationalizing sexual promiscuity.” He said questionable language, drunkenness, lying to parents and a lack of remorse by the characters led to the recommendation. “I just don’t think it’s a good book. I don’t think it’s consistent with these standards and the kind of message that we want to send,” he said. “…If the book had ended on a different note, I might have thought differently.”
Huh. Personally, I thought Twenty Boy Summer was a sensitive look at loss, a complex examination of the different ways people handle grief, and how love can heal. As I said in my review, “Anna’s internal struggle about her loyalty to Matt and her growing attraction to Sam, the summer boy, is respectfully portrayed. Anna and Sam are in many ways the perfect summer romance: teasing, hot, honest, lustful, fun, and any decisions Anna makes are based on what Anna wants, not what someone else pushes. . . . ”
Bookshelves of Doom observes, “4 of the 7 school board members were in attendance when the vote was held. Or that the reconsideration committee—you know, people who actually read the books in their entirety—recommended that all three books stay.” AND, bonus, according to this report, only one of the voting board members read the books.
Ockler addresses what happened in detail at her blog, in Banned, But Never Shamed: “I’m still not going to write to send messages or make teens feel guilty because they’ve made choices that some people want to pretend don’t exist. That’s my choice. And I’ll never be ashamed of my choice to write about real issues.”