Sherman Alexie Book Pulled From High School

Sherman Alexie‘s recent young-adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, was recently pulled from the curriculum of Crook County High School in Prineville, Ore. Hank Moss, the father of a student at the school, registered a complaint about the novel after noticing a mention in it about masturbation. “I didn’t feel the book was appropriate for a required reading assignment for a 14-year-old,” he told the Bend Bulletin. “It had a lot of references that I didn’t feel comfortable with.”

Alexie, naturally, defends the book’s honor in the story:

“The world is an incredibly complicated place, and our literature must match that, especially literature for our kids,” Alexie said. “The book is incredibly positive about the world we live in, and people from vastly different politics and groups end up being friends. … If they read the book, it’s a celebration of the values of what they (parents who oppose the book) hold dear.”

And here I was thinking that Flight, which has all sorts of violent moments, could’ve qualified as a YA novel. I haven’t read Absolutely True Diary, though I suspect it’s not as awful as Mr. Moss makes it sound (“I don’t think a 50-year-old ought to read it,” he told the Oregonian.) Perhaps more troubling is how the reporting on the incident makes the Crook County school board look like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight; Moss registered his complaint with the district board, not with the school principal or the teacher who assigned the book. Moss’ end run didn’t keep the school board from acting hastily, and the principal, Jim Golden, appears to be the only person involved with his head screwed on right:

“I’ve been directed by the school board and the superintendent to pull the book, and I will comply with their directive,” Golden said. “But I respectfully disagree with what they are doing. It’s a slippery slope. … If you take one or two pages out of context, I mean ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is about two teenagers who are having a relationship. … It’s a dangerous precedent. … Part of what you are going to do is discuss ideas not proselytize kids. You want them to come to their own conclusion.”

One response to “Sherman Alexie Book Pulled From High School

  1. If that guy thinks his 14-year-old boy doesn’t choke the chicken, jerk the gherkin, etc., he has somehow forgotten what it’s like to be a 14-year-old boy.

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