Since the 1852 publication of “UNCLE TOM’S Shack” by Harriet Beecher Stowe at last year’s challenge of “MAUS”, A Spiegelman Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, the books have been a subject of debate by some people who want to control what others read.
Each year, the American Library Association compiles a new list of banned and disputed books, deemed objectionable due to controversial or miscellaneous material, placing these books at risk of being removed from library shelves. Check out the following new titles to guess if they could be challenged next. Decide for yourself and celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week September 18-24. See https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks for more information.
“TANQUERAY” (921 Johnson) by Stephanie Johnson and Brandon Stanton will delight Stanton’s fans “THE HUMANS OF NEW YORK” (974.7 ST), as it delves deep into the life story of one of the women depicted there. Stephanie Johnson, also known by her stage name, Tanqueray, grew up in an upper-middle-class background but always disagreed with her mother who pressured her black daughter to succeed in a white world. Taking to the streets of New York, Stephanie fell into dancing and stripping, making more money than she could in a nine-to-five job. As his fame faded with age, Tanqueray discovered, as we all eventually do, that a good relationship is worth more than all the money in the world.
“IN SHORT, A DELICIOUS LIFE” by Nell Stevens (Adult Fiction) is a combination of ghost story, historical fiction and romance, set in 1838 when composer Frédéric Chopin and French writer George Sand arrived together on the Caribbean island of Majorca to a sunny winter retreat. Blanca, who died almost 400 years earlier at the age of 14, spends her time near the monastery where she lived, browsing the memories of those who still live. When Blanca lays eyes on George, a woman in slacks who has escaped from her unhappy marriage to live a more liberated life, she is smitten and spends a lot of time exploring George’s thoughts and sensual nature. Readers also get a glimpse into Blanca’s brief mortal life.
“A QUICK AND EASY GUIDE TO QUEER AND TRANS IDENTITIES” by Mady G. & JR Zuckerberg (YA Graphic) is fully illustrated, using a group of animated snails to clarify issues about LGBTQ teens. These curious snails discover the label, “weird”, gender identity, dysphoria, asexuality and gender expression. As Snails skim through these informative chapters, they find universal advice on partner relationships and communication. This book will help everyone (not just snails) connect with community members who may not fit preconceived stereotypes.
“NOTHING BURN AS BRIGHT AS YOU” by Ashley Woodfolk (Teen Fiction) is a verse book that describes the relationship between two 16-year-old girls trying to figure out who they are sexually, while navigating the level of communication needed for dating teens. The story goes back and forth through the narrator’s teenage years, chronicling her struggle to express her feelings, compounded by her burning obsession with her (unofficial) girlfriend. The author never names any of the characters, but describes them so precisely that readers will have no doubt as to their identity.
“OUT THERE: Into the Queer New Yonder” edited by Saundra Mitchell (Teen Fiction) is a collection of 17 short stories by seventeen authors featuring bizarre characters who travel through time in an attempt to learn history, travel in and out of other people’s bodies to multicultural experiences and space travel as the world becomes unable to sustain human life. These thought-provoking stories are mostly science fiction, each with a creative storyline and unique perspective.
“COLD” by Mariko Tamaki (Teen Fiction) is a novel written in two voices, reflecting the different perspectives of Georgia and Todd. Like the characters in Tamaki’s award-winning graphic novels, “THIS ONE SUMMER” and “LAURA DEAN KEEPS HER BREAKING UP WITH ME” Georgia and Todd are each attracted to same-sex relationships, but don’t want the world to know it. Georgia is quiet and thoughtful, having been bullied most of her life by the popular and mean girls at her private school. She befriends Carrie, who has separated from the popular girls. However, Georgia is obsessed with killing a student in the same grade (and school) as her older brother, Mark. The ghost of Todd, which hovers above his naked corpse, follows two police investigators as they piece together the events leading up to his disappearance. Georgia’s brother and new friend become suspects, as the investigation uncovers more clues, threatening to destroy the world she knows.
By Lynette Suckow