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Banned Books Week and “Eleanor & Park”

Banned Books Week:

ALA Freadom Slide 2013 (2)

Now when it comes to topics like this, I like to tread lightly. We all are passionate about one thing or another or even many. Growing up within a certain system which I allowed myself to be very black and white with, and recently coming out of it, I have learned that life isn’t black and white…at all. I learned to open my mind more and appreciate and accept differences whether I agreed with them or not.

This week, it was brought to Epic Reads (which then means, it was then brought to the attention of me and other booknerds everywhere) that a certain book, was banned in an entire county in America.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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I have not read the book. It came out in February. I have searched and read reviews on it. I have searched fan art (which there already is plenty of) and have gained a sense, or the gist of the book. Today on #TeaTime EPIC READS which are every Wednesday USTREAM 3:45pm EST (we booknerds call it Book Shimmy Day!) this was the topic of the week. Next week begins Banned Book Week. http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/

Crazy because I didn’t even know this was a thing. (banned books week . org)

I had and still have many thoughts, feels, and opinions on this matter. I played “devil’s advocate” and analyzed both sides of the argument. At first I didn’t know what to feel exactly. My personality I have come to know is very old fashion and I love that about me. I’m an old soul trapped in a twenty-something year old’s body. I love the Jane Austen and classics of the days of old, I’m not your typical extroverted twenty-something year old. I love to stay home and watch movies, read books, have shenanigan time with close friends.  Anyway, my point is that, due to my personality, I felt one sided instantly about this whole thing.

There’s a list of apparently sailor words (curse words) that are mentioned up the wazoo in the book and something about sexual content supposedly.

The book was placed on a Summer reading list for kids at school. Parents were outraged and gathered together, confronted the school board and got this book banned in an entire county.

So here’s the thing…I get wanting to censor your children from certain content that you feel is inappropriate for them. You have chosen to set a certain standard for your child to be raised in. I, personally understand that. As it is, as much as I love T.V. I cringe, a lot at the things tweens and teens are watching and have visual access to that NEVER was the case when I was younger. Lots of what is available to teens to watch these days I find not beneficial but here’s the thing…at the end of the day, that is my opinion.

Sure the “revolutionist” in some of us, wants to ROAR, wave flags and change certain aspects of today to help mark a better tomorrow for our children who will one day be the ones making this world go round, or not.

(gosh theres so much that can be said here, I’m trying to focus my thoughts…)

To ban books, when we live in a fully accessible of all things age, and television is the ultimate visual access along with the internet, is not the positive or efficient move here. Young adults, and kids do not read enough. Theres a problem with the coming of  age generations and it’s got a lot to do with the lost art of imagination.

I grew up in a television watching home. No one in my home read or encouraged reading. I had no bookish friends who provoked me either. I never stepped foot into a library other than in school, when the entire class had to go for a picture session. Or when in 5th grade, our group skipped school together like idiots in a large group, got caught and we were forced to sit in the library and write a 500 words essay.

Ok, I laugh because only me! I was secretly excited about writing the 500 word essay. I wrote it in my best cursive, filled the pages and I believe, I went further than the 500 words. My friends lovingly made fun of me for that. (Imagine if I read more…I would have probably discovered my love as a writer and believed in it more at an earlier period in my life than much much later…like…recently.)

I look at my 14 year old niece who is a booknerd who helped introduce me to YA (young adult literature) which now I am obsessed with reading with no more shame. I see how just two years ago, she was awakened to books and reading. I’ve seen how it’s molded her creatively in many different creative outlets.

Reading something with inappropriate language or scenes doesnt course her towards emulating them…why? My sister and bro-in law are AMAZING parents who communicate with their kids. Their kids are their best friends and vise versa. I have never witnessed such an amazing family unit. I tell them all the time, how right they got it with these two. (14 yr old niece and 11 year old nephew). They watched television together, never off in their separate rooms. They don’t live like strangers in the same house. Samantha and her mom (Vanessa) talk about everything. Vanessa knows about her daughters fanfictions, and OTP’s, she knows about her daughters gaming love and Legend of Korra feels. They communicate and spend time together. Same goes with Nicky and his dad. They go outside & warm up for sports together, watch games on TV together. These kids are not any more ignorant to the craziness kids learn about in school but are diamond in the ruffs who have no desire or interest in exploring the craziness teens have now become accustomed to participating in.

This is where I agree with the girls from Epic Reads, and @OurReadingWorld who posted:

“Banning books is so not the solution. Communication is. 🙂 Books are the way to freedom and knowledge”

To ban a book in the entire county, so that others could not access it either, is not a victory. How far will it go then? I think of some of the books they mentioned that have been throughout history banned. Books, that now in 2013, seem ridiculous that they were banned. They’re common books or classics that are read in High School English classes now.

Here is a list (well known books) that have been banned or challenged; targeted for banning in the last few decades:

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence
80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

For more detailed info on the complete list and for details on why each titled was pursued for banning, visit:

http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/classics

ABOUT THE BOOK AT HAND:

I am actually very curious about this book. Eleanor & Park. Not due to the rebellious teenager in all of us that wants to purposely stick it to the man, *chuckle* though it’s fun to do that at times but honestly, after some of the reviews and fan art I found on the book, I’m very intrigued about the story between Eleanor & Park.

Um first, as a girl who suffered self-image issues during those school years, I am LOVING that the heroine is not your typical looking protagonist female. She has crazy curly red “Disney’s Brave Princess Merida” hair, she’s not skinny and dresses (due to her low-income circumstance) pretty funky. Then, she actually slowly gets the attention and heart of a, what seems attractive mixed Asian American boy.

eleanor and park tumblr_mmi3l3iHTQ1r3ibgko1_500

(too cute…love these fan arts-they’re what has me intrigued to read this)

I respect John Green as an author. Especially after reading “The Fault in Our Stars” I find myself trusting to a certain extent his opinion.

He reviewed and wrote:

“Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”—John Green

Here’s a small synopsis from a blogger:

“Eleanor is a “big girl” with bright red hair (kids on the bus call her Big Red, and she describes herself as resembling a barmaid)…

Park is a half-Korean kid who’s passably popular but separated from the larger social order of his school both by his race and by his passion for comic books and good music. On the first day of school, Eleanor sits down next to him on the bus. Over time, she begins reading his comics over his shoulder. Then he lends them to her. They bond over music. Eventually, they begin holding hands on the rides to and from school.

The hand-holding, by the way, is intense. “Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat.” Evocative sensual descriptions are everywhere in this novel, but they always feel true to the characters. Eleanor describes Park’s trench coat as smelling “like Irish Spring and a little bit like potpourri and like something she couldn’t describe any other way than boy.” Park watches Eleanor’s mouth so closely that he “could see that her lips had freckles, too.” After Eleanor castigates him for saying she looks “nice,” Park thinks: “Eleanor was right: She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” And they are relentlessly, deliciously fascinated with the feel of each other’s touch. Two-thirds of the way through the book, when Park realizes they’ve only touched north of the chin and south of the wrists, I felt as flabbergasted as he does.”

Funny, I didn’t know John Green was the one who wrote this review blog…here’s the link

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/books/review/eleanor-park-by-rainbow-rowell.html

In Conclusion:

With television and the internet, banning books to try and control what your children are exposed to is not the solution. If anything, we NEED to get our kids eyes peeled off from the television screens and the endless hours in front of video games (don’t me wrong, I love Gamers) and introduce this generation to the beauty of imagination, and mental creativity through the endless world of books! We then need to sit down and actually communicate with our children. Have open, honest conversations about life instead of just taking things away, saying, “No!” with no further discussion, and explanation.

Of course, we’re (well, some of us) not wanting our teenage girls reading “50 Shades of Grey” for instance, so sit down with your teen and talk to them about saving that book for later, when they’re older, and explain why. Then at eighteen, revisit the topic, for example. The point is, if you want to set a standard for your child, great! You have boundaries for your child, okay!

To gather a town and ban books which are already in a battle to stay alive and well, especially with our younger generation only hurts a community more than helps it.

So next week is Banned Book Week. Epic Reads and the community of Banned Books are wanting to help bring awareness and encourage reading!

Next Week, pick a book from the Banned Books List and read it! Share about it with your book clubs, friends, ect. I personally may be checking out Eleanor & Park, now that my curiosity has been tickled.

Check out Epic Reads Tea Time USTREAM chat on Banned Books Week, how they believe Authors have evil laughs, doppelgängers, upcoming Allegiant event and more! The full video is below!

If you’d like to just check out specific highlights and clips, check out their page here:

http://www.epicreads.com/blog/tea-time-recap-banned-books-week/

Have a great bookish week y’all!

<3, Des

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6 thoughts on “Banned Books Week and “Eleanor & Park”

  1. the internet is an amazing thing as it just found me ( a middle aged business guy at his desk) connectedd to this article……. thanks for a non militant review of book banning and for giving us a unique and thoughtful perspective….. My perspective is always: if its contraversial,….. read it first your self then give it to the young person and guide them in their reading. none of these banned books are scary when you have an adult to ‘broaden the conversation’…… thanks again. And afterall kid lit and YA is a pretty quick read and worth the effort to better connect with young people.

    1. “My perspective is always: if its controversial,….. read it first your self then give it to the young person and guide them in their reading. none of these banned books are scary when you have an adult to ‘broaden the conversation…”
      Well said. I agree. Its an opportunity to begin a conversation with your teens/kids. Thanks for reading!

  2. Hope you read Eleanor and Park. It was a sweet, light-hearted teen romance mixed with the horrors of today’s society–bullying, low income families, physical and mental abuse and more. The ending was bitter sweet for me.

    I can see how parents would be concerned about their child reading the book but you can’t ban a book. It only draws attention to the book and raises awareness of the book. Teens want to read what they are told they can’t. Instead, these parents should talk to THEIR teen about the book and why it’s not right for THEIR family.

    1. I haven’t been able to read it yet only due to me not being able to purchase it yet. I’ve read tons of reviews so I’m preparing myself emotionally. I was however able to read the sample of the first couple of chapters. My 14 year old niece showed it to me. Her mom read it after and they discussed it and decided it wasn’t something my niece should read right now.
      The first chapter was hard to get through and I do understand parents concerns. I wouldn’t have allowed my child/teen to read it yet till they were older either. But I like what my sister did. They both sampled it, discussed it and made the decision together. My niece completely understood and chose to put reading that book aside for a few more years.

      Thanks for your comment. I couldn’t agree more!
      Thanks for reading! 🙂

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