Dear Fellow Reader,
I have been reading articles for the last few months about the attempts in many locations to ban books. Not only ban books but also persecute librarians. (https://www.rawstory.com/watch-new-chattanooga-da-may-prosecute-librarians-for-contributing-to-the-delinquency-of-minors/) (https://thehill.com/changing-america/respect/diversity-inclusion/3592899-michigan-public-library-defunded-over-inclusion-of-lgbtq-materials/)
Oh my. I am not sure where to start with this except to say that this is not Nazi Germany or a Communist country. I have no idea what rock these people have crawled out from under, but they need to wake up in the sunlight or crawl back under.
Book Banning and going after librarians is truly scary stuff. This is people wanting to control your thoughts and the information that you can obtain.
I find it truly horrifying. And if you don’t, then you need to pay more attention.
With that in mind, I have decided to educate myself about some of the books that people are talking and complaining about.
If you have never looked at the American Library Association’s list of books that people have tried to ban, you might be shocked. I am a volunteer book group coordinator for a group. I decided that in September (Banned Book Week is in September) that we would read a book that people have attempted to ban. I gave the ladies 5 choices of books. I was in a group that discussed the choices one day and there was general surprise that these titles were on the list. The following are the choices I gave them:
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Are you surprised by these titles? Then let this be your first wake up call as to what is going on in this country. Books that most consider classics and have won numerous literary awards are being objected to – in some cases for ONE PARAGRAPH in the book. (By the way, the voting is almost complete for my group, and it looks like the choice will be The Bluest Eye. (This book was brought up as part of the campaign for Governor of Virginia last year.)
But today, I would like to talk about a more contemporary book that is currently on top of the banned or attempted to be banned book list.
Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe.
Please note: Maia uses alternate pronouns and I am going to respect that. I may not get it right because I am learning but she deserves this respect. Maia prefers ey, em, and eir for she, her, possessive her.
Part of me is not sure where to start. My first thought is that the people objecting to this book have not read it. I can’t believe that you could read this book and not have sympathy as your overriding feeling. I want to reach out and help em more than anything else, but I I want to stand by em side and support em.
The book is Maia’s story of not feeling right in em body. It isn’t that ey is gay or ey is transgender. Ey doesn’t truly feel good about body. Ey just wants to be non-gender. Ey doesn’t want to be sexually active with anyone. Ey doesn’t like eir breasts, ey doesn’t like eir period, ey doesn’t like anything about eir sexuality. And she realizes that this is not the norm and is trying to find em way.
And I feel sorry for eir constant uncomfortable feelings. It is certainly not written in any titillating way. This stupid STUPID concept of “grooming” could not possibly be applied to this book. Ey doesn’t make it seem appealing. Ey feels bad about how ey is and ey wishes ey wasn’t that way. Ey is willing to be supportive of others who feel this way but ey is scared to volunteer to help because ey doesn’t know how people will react.
Why read this book? This book gives insight into how another person thinks. As with all fiction, it shows us that others think differently, and we can therefore grow because we know another viewpoint. It isn’t whether you agree or disagree with em, it is that you understand that there is this viewpoint.
I didn’t say at the beginning of this review that Gender Queer is a graphic novel. It is easy to read and well done. The graphics enhance eir telling of the story; they are not a distraction.
And no, it was not easy to write this review using Miai’s preferred pronouns. I am not sure I got it right all the time, but I respect em as a person, and it was what I can do to show that respect. As you may guess, my word processing editor has gone a bit mad with this. There are red marks all over the page.
I urge you to think for yourself and read the books on the Banned Book List. See if you think that they deserve this treatment. https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10
Thanks for reading!