It’s high time we acknowledged Banned Books Week around here, and what better way to do it than taking a look at the titles that the American Library Association has determined to be the US’s most challenged books of the past year?
Lush: A Novel, for example, is an award winning story of a teenage girl struggling with sexual harassment at school and her father’s alcoholism at home. What My Mother Doesn’t Know is somewhat in the same vein; a story about a girl figuring out that peer acceptance and high school social mores aren’t the best criteria for making choices in her love life. The Hunger Games has a story of love in it, but primarily its characters’ practical natures force them to put aside the potential for romance in their lives to deal with the intense violence their society subjects them to, not to mention to deal with some of the most compelling depictions of post traumatic stress that I’ve found in literature.
The 2010 list runs as follows:
- And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
- Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
- Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
- The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
- Lush, by Natasha Friend
- What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
- Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
- Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
- Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
It only takes a cursory glance at the list to note that two thirds of these books were created by women, and half of them concern the trials and (some) triumphs of central female characters. Actually, the latter is kind of comforting: it’s precisely the right ratio to hope for in any list of good literature. Books often rise to prominence in a year’s challenges when they are given the publicity boost of being adapted to the big screen. 2011 is The Hunger Games‘ first time hitting the banned books list, undoubtedly because of the movie that’s in the works.
In other words, with the last Twilight movie hitting theaters late next year, don’t I wouldn’t be surprised if the series maintains its presence on the list for a third year in a row.
For all of the most challenged books of this young century, check out the ALA website.