Category: Coming of Age

Feb 03

Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction, Flowers, Women's Studies 21

Howdy Bookworms,

Ah, comfort fiction. For me, it typically involves gardening, women supporting one another, and more often than not, it’s set in the South. Sure, sometimes it’s a little on the sweet side, some might argue it’s downright syrupy. Luckily, I never met a dessert I didn’t like, so sweetness is absolutely my thing. I just read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, and I loved it!

saving cee cee HoneycutCecelia Honeycutt has had a rough go of it. As a young girl in Ohio, she plays witness to her mother’s devastating descent into mental illness. Her father is absent as he’s a travelling salesman, so when CeeCee’s mother’s antics move from the eccentric into the psychotic, she is left to handle things on her own.

CeeCee finds her refuge in the library and in the arms of her elderly neighbor. She struggles to deal with her mother making trips to the grocery store in full pageant regalia and withers under the stares of her classmates. Having an untreated mentally ill mother doesn’t make you particularly popular, as it turns out. Then one day, everything changes.

CeeCee’s father arranges to have her move in with her Great Aunt Tootie, a woman she’s never met. She’s uprooted and re-installed in Savannah, Georgia. Aunt Tootie is pretty much the sweetest woman alive, and CeeCee takes to Oletta (Aunt Tootie’s cook and housekeeper) immediately. Unfortunately, a few weeks of good home cooking and affection can’t make up for a childhood rife with neglect. CeeCee slowly learns to accept and acknowledge her past while allowing the love of her new found life to heal her tortured soul.

What can I say? I’m an absolute sucker for this kind of book. It’s the type of novel that leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy about humanity. If you liked The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd or Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg, you will adore Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. If you haven’t read any of them, what in the sam heck are you waiting for?! Go forth and feel good!

Have you ever met a novel that makes you feel good about humankind? What are some of your favorites? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site I will receive a small commission, which I will probably use to buy more books. Honesty. It’s what I do.*

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Jan 16

Jazz Age January: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Coming of Age, Historical Fiction, Roaring 20s 27

Get a Wiggle on, Bookworms,

jazzageIt’s time for Jazz Age January! Leah at Books Speak Volumes is hosting this swell event. Today we’re going to celebrate this sockdollager with some great reading about the 1920s! My first pick for this event is The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, and was it EVER the bee’s knees!

The bulk of the book is set during the summer of 1922. Cora Carlisle is a 36 year old woman in need of an adventure and some answers about her past. When the opportunity presents itself to chaperone a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks to New York City for the summer, Cora jumps at the chance.

thechaperone

Unfortunately, Louise isn’t an easy gal to chaperone. Oh no, that little dollface has her own agenda that doesn’t include propriety, sobriety, or any other -iety. Louise is set on having a gas in the big city. Though Cora has her hands full trying to keep Louise out of trouble, we soon learn that Cora is no stranger to controversy.

Cora’s decision to accompany Louise was based in large part on her desperate desire to uncover some information on her birth family. Yep. Ye olde Orphan Train strikes again! Cora was shipped off from NYC as a 6-year-old and moved on to a life on a Kansas farm. But that’s not all. Cora’s life has more secrets than meet the eye and her trip to New York is more fruitful than she ever imagined.

I think what really made this book a winner for me was the opportunity to view social issues through a 1920’s lense. Cora’s escapade with Louise in the city was a vehicle to look at the era as a whole. Prohibition. Women’s suffrage. Birth control. Homosexuality. Marriage. Social hierarchy. It was downright titillating.

Oh, and BTW, modern folks, Louise Brooks goes on to become one of the most famous movie stars ever. She ruled silent films, but her difficult attitude led to her untimely downfall in the film industry. Louise’s life was crazy, but certainly never boring. She published her memoirs shortly before her death in 1985 to great acclaim. It would seem Louise managed to get the last laugh.

What is your favorite book about or written in the 1920s? Has anybody else read The Chaperone? What did you think?

*If you choose to make a purchase through a link on this site I will make a small commission. This little flapper wouldn’t mind those berries.*

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Jan 13

North and South by John Jakes

Civil War, Coming of Age, Historical Fiction 31

Holy Moly, Bookworms!

My friend Lauren from Filing Jointly demanded that I read North and South by John Jakes. She was all, “Katie, it’s like if The Pillars of the Earth was set during the Civil War.” And I was all, “Ooooooh, that sounds wonderful.” Technically, I finished this after midnight on New Year’s Eve, so I’m going to say it counts as my first official read of 2014.

north and southThis bad boy was chunkster-iffic. Weighing in at 812 pages, I was shocked to get through it in less than a week. Family scandal and treachery will do that to you… As well as vacation days. (I love you, vacation days!) North and South begins a trilogy of books that tell the epic tale of the Mains and the Hazards.

Orry Main and George Hazard meet as cadets at West Point in the 1840s. Though Orry hails from a slave-owning plantation in South Carolina and George’s family owns an iron company in Pennsylvania, the two strike a fast friendship. Their friendship isn’t without struggle though. Even prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War, tensions ran high between the North and the South. There was fiery rhetoric on both sides of the Mason/Dixon, and it was kind of scandalous for a Yankee and a Southron to be hanging out.

Orry and George graduate from West Point and go on fight in the Mexican-American war together. After their service they each return home to their respective families and continue their lives. As the years progress, the friendship endures, but political tensions rise. Plus, they’ve got these big crazy families and businesses to run. It’s all so intense and passionate!

I have a tiny complaint though. Elkanah Bent is our resident villain. He is super evil and has been deviling the Main and Hazard clans since Orry and George’s days at West Point. I don’t object to a villain, I mean, villains are necessary and interesting and wicked. What I found unnecessary was that Bent was the only overweight character in the entire book. If you’re read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m super sensitive to authors writing unsympathetic descriptions of obese people, and Bent’s obesity was used as another aspect of his evilness. That I could have lived without.

What I can’t live without? The rest of the doggone trilogy. Holy cats, you guys, I’m enthralled. Heck, I’ve had spirited conversations about Ashton Main (Orry’s sister) and the pantalettes she refuses to keep in place (if I were ever going to slut-shame a fictional character, it’d be Ashton Main)! Epic historical family sagas are where it’s at!

Is anybody else out there a sucker for a saga? Tell me your favorites! 

*If you decide to purchase North and South through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Dec 12

Flight by Sherman Alexie

Coming of Age, Time Travel, Young Adult Fiction 16

Howdy Bookworms,

Remember how I went on a crazy Cyber Monday shopping spree snapping up ALL THE DIGITAL BOOKS?! One of those books was Flight by Sherman Alexie, and holy cats, was it a doozie!

flightAlright, so there’s this kid who calls himself “Zits,” right? Poor guy is 14, in foster care, and suffers from a severe case of acne. He is half Native American, his father is an absent alcoholic, and his mother died of breast cancer when he was 6. Zits has been stuck in the system and wreaking havoc on the Seattle area for years. When we meet Zits, he’s in a foster home of the “we want the monthly stipend” variety. Instead of playing nice in his new surroundings, Zits goes out and gets himself arrested.

The way he sees it, jail is preferable to yet another crappy foster home. On this particular journey to the slammer, Zits meets up with another juvenile delinquent calling himself “Justice.” Justice seems like he’s got his life in order (at least from Zits’ perspective) and they team up. Only Justice? That guy’s got some ISSUES. He manages to convince Zits that they need to start a revolution… A revolution that will be kicked off by Zits shooting up a bank.

Zits is in the midst of his murderous rampage. He perceives that he’s been shot in the head, but instead of dying, he is taken on a Quantum Leap style journey through time and space. (I KNOW!) It sounds crazy, and it is pretty crazy, but it was SO GOOD! You know I’m a sucker for time travel, and jumping into someone else’s body? Well, that just turns things up to eleven! Seriously y’all. Never once has (what I assume to be) Proactiv made me cry. Until today. Wowza.

If you could jump into someone else’s consciousness, whose brain would you want to get inside? You’ve got all of history to pick from, Bookworms. Let’s hear it!

*If you buy a copy of Flight from a link on this site, I make a few cents. Let’s face it. Cents/Sense is something I could use more of. ALSO, did you enter my giveaway yesterday? Take a little scroll down. Free book!*

 

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Dec 11

Review & GIVEAWAY!!! Washing Cars & Wasting Time by John Oliva

Coming of Age, Humor, Memoirs 19

Greetings Bookworms!

I know, I know. I was MIA yesterday. I have a really good reason for going missing that has nothing at all to do with spending my evening having my hair dyed to camouflage my prematurely graying hair… Wait… I mean… Books!

I was recently contacted by John Oliva and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing his book Washing Cars and Wasting TimeI don’t often accept review requests from authors who contact me directly, but the premise of this book piqued my interest. Washing Cars and Wasting Time is the recounting of Oliva’s time working for his family’s business, a self serve car was on the south side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

washingcars

I was pleasantly surprised by this memoir! It’s a slim volume, but chock full of slice-of-life tidbits that make a car wash an oddly compelling place to work. Oliva’s eccentric father’s antics had me giggling, and the family’s elaborate system for counting and transporting quarters? Oh man. I’ll never look at a coffee can, a cookie sheet, or a closet the same way again… In fact, I’m a little disappointed that all the coffee cans, cookie sheets, and closets in my house are used purely for their mundane intended purposes.

At times this book reads a bit like a blog, though I say that in the most admiring way possible. (Well done blogs are a whole lot of awesome, dagnabit!) Oliva’s stories were entertaining, but it was his side commentary that really appealed to me. What can I say? I’ve BEEN to a Midwestern car wash in the winter… People are bizarre, and nobody wants road salt stains on their sweet rides, even when their “sweet rides” are held together with duct tape and chewing gum.

You know what the very best part about reviewing this book is for me, though? Getting to share it with you! John Oliva sent me a spare, autographed copy of his book to hand out to a lucky winner. Now get in there, and win yourself a fun, free book, y’all! This giveaway is limited to the US only. (International shipping is a beast, sorry guys!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received a copy of this book for review and giveaway from the author in exchange for an honest review. If you choose to purchase a copy of this book through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I almost never wash my car, even when it’s covered with road salt and grime. I also need a refill of washer fluid.*

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Dec 02

Orphan Train: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline

Coming of Age, Historical Fiction 41

Hey Bookworms,

I hope you’ve all slept off your tryptophan stupors and that you had the Happiest of Thanksgivings in the process. I must admit, I didn’t get a whole lot of reading done this weekend. There was so much decking of the halls to be done! Luckily, I did manage to finish a book, so why don’t we talk about it?

orphantrainThis weekend I finished reading Orphan Train: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline. History Lesson! Did you know that from the 1850s to the 1930s in the good old US of A, orphaned, homeless, and abandoned children from the East Coast were transported to the Midwest via train in hopes they’d be taken in? If you had the bad luck to lose your family to dysentery or whatever while living as a minor in NYC? They’d snap you up and ship you off to places where kids and/or farmhands were in short supply. (Now I LOVE the Midwest. It’s home to me. But to an Irish immigrant kid by way of New York City? Culture shock, much?)

This book employs a dual narrative, which I rather enjoy as a matter of course. One half of the narrative is told from Molly’s point of view. Molly’s story comes to us from the modern day. She’s been in foster care for a good chunk of her childhood, and she hasn’t had the easiest time of it. One day she gets caught trying to steal the rattiest copy of Jane Eyre from the library and is sentenced to 50 hours of community service. C’mon, TOWN! Foster girl just wanted to get her classics on! Why you gotta be so mean?!

Thanks to Molly’s boyfriend’s mom’s employer (got that?!), Molly gets hooked up with a way to kill off some of those hours by working for Vivian, a nonagenarian with a really cluttered attic. As the the attic project commences, Vivian begins telling Molly about her youth aboard the Orphan Train.

The foster care system can suck pretty hard. There are a great many foster caregivers every trying to do their best by children in need, but it’s certainly not an easy road. If it weren’t enough that the kids had to deal with a screwed up childhood without their parents for whatever reason, there are occasionally a few rotten apples who choose to be foster parents not out of caring, but out of a desire for the monthly stipend. As crappy as all that is, at least these days kids get to keep their names. Yeah, guys. Names. You get stuck on an Orphan Train back in the day and you’ve got an ethnic sounding name? Fuggedaboudit. Vivian’s name was Niamh (which is super Irish and pronounced “Neev.”) Then it was changed to Dorothy. Then Vivian. I mean, the girl was old enough to know her doggone name! Like it’s not traumatic enough to be virtually auctioned off like chattel, you get to lose the last shred of your identity while you’re at it. That’s some bull crap right there, history.

There was one part of the story that bothered me, but to go into specifics I’d have to get spoiler-y. If you’ve read it, you can probably guess what I’m talking about. It has to do with the second Margaret… And ?!?!?!?!?!?! All in all though, I really liked this book. It was a fast read and it hit all the historical high notes I adore in a novel. I can see this book appealing to fans of historical fiction and those who are interested in the plights of society’s underdogs. If you have any interest at all, I highly recommend this book.

Alright, Bookworms. Let’s talk about names for a second. Most of us have no say in choosing our names (unless you change yours for some reason, which is expensive and time consuming) but they have a huge impact on our identities. Do you ever feel like you were given the “wrong” name, or do you feel like it’s become an important part of who you are? 

If you’re interested in getting a holiday card and *Certified Awesome* Words for Worms bookmark from me, there’s still loads of time! Send an email to wordsforworms@gmail.com with your address and I’ll put one in the mail. The first batch is going out this week! 🙂

Oh yeah, if you buy a copy of a book linked through this page, I will receive an itty bitty commission, which will be reinvested into my book buying habit. 

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Nov 06

Yeehaw! True Grit by Charles Portis

Coming of Age, Western 26

Howdy Bookworms,

I know it’s Wednesday and I don’t normally post, but since I didn’t do a Top Ten Tuesday yesterday, I figured I’d get a little crazy. (Yes, doing thing off schedule qualifies as “crazy” in my world. Don’t judge.) You never know what you’ll like if you never try anything new, right? I thought it might be fun for me to branch out and read something out of my comfort zone. Sarah at Sarah Says Read RAVED about how awesome True Grit was a while back, so it’s been on my radar ever since.

truegritTrue Grit was my first Western (well, my first Western that didn’t have Harlequin stamped on the cover… We all have our vices.) It had all the elements I expected: horses, pistols, cowboy hats, campfires, harmonicas… It was the geography of it all that surprised me a little bit. When I think “Western,” I think the Southwest- California, Arizona, New Mexico. True Grit took place in Arkansas and Oklahoma. It’s not like it didn’t make sense, it’s just that… Well. Tumbleweeds. You know?

Lack of tumbleweeds aside, I freaking LOVED Mattie Ross! This little half pint is one of the strongest female narrators I’ve ever read. Mattie is 14 years old and has left her home to claim her father’s body. Because, you know, that’s a totally appropriate task for a 14 year old girl. Her father was murdered by his hired hand Tom Chaney, and Mattie isn’t ABOUT to let that punk get away with it.

Powered by pure gumption, Mattie Ross recruits federal marshal Rooster Cogburn to help her bring Chaney to justice. Mattie is stubborn, sassy, and strong. She’s also got a great storytelling voice. There was a point in the novel where Mattie and Rooster were waiting for a troupe of bandits to show up. Rooster tries to kill the time by telling Mattie his life story, and things started getting a little long… Just as I was getting bored with Rooster’s story, Mattie breaks in and says that she fell asleep for a while and when she woke up, he was still talking. Ha! LOVE!

Now, while I simply adored Mattie, I’m still not sure I’m sold on the whole Western concept. Mattie will go down as one of my favorite characters ever, but True Grit probably won’t make my list of favorite novels ever. I suppose cowboy lore isn’t really my cup of tea. Still, if you want to read an AWESOME female lead? You need to meet Ms. Mattie Ross.

Okey dokey, Bookworms. Mattie Ross isn’t alone out there in literature land. Who are some of your favorite young female leads? Talk to me!

*If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of True Grit for yourself, please consider using this link. 9 out of 10 mamas won’t let their babies grow up to be cowboys, but they all want me to keep my reading habit funded. My affiliation with Book Depository nets me a small chunk of the proceeds of any sales I send their way.*

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Oct 08

Top Ten Tuesday: Best and Worst Series Enders

Children's Fiction, Coming of Age, Dystopian, Fantasy, Top Ten Tuesday, Young Adult Fiction 51

Happy Tuesday Bookworms!

Anybody else noticed that series are ALL THE RAGE these days? It seems like nobody feels like writing a stand alone book anymore… Or something. I’m a pretty big fan of series on the whole. Sometimes though, the last book in the series is truly a make or break moment. Today, the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list out our favorite and not so favorite series enders. Are you ready?!

toptentuesday

My Favorites:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. I don’t know if I can properly describe the level of satisfaction I felt during that epilogue. It ended beautifully, and as desperately as I want more and more and more Harry Potter, I am pleased with the way things wrapped up.

2. MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood. I loved everything about this series. I loved the weird names for gene spliced animals, the screwy scary fast food joints, the trippy cults- everything. I waited a good 4 years for the final book and I was NOT disappointed. That Atwood. She knows what she’s doing.

margaret-atwood-dystopic-trilogy

3. The Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. This ending wasn’t perfect because I wasn’t crazy about some of Katniss’s decisions. However, I liked that Collins emphasized the psychological implications of the horrors the characters endured. Plus, I’m a sucker for a “happy as circumstances will allow” ending.

4Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris. This was the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. The series ran out of steam and started getting pretty random somewhere around book 7, so my expectations for the series wrap up weren’t too high. However, I was quite pleased because I’d been rooting for one particular romance since book one and it totally happened. Yay for that!

Not So Favorites:

5. Son by Lois Lowry. Okay, so The Giver is one of the most amazing books since ever. It’s complete awesomeness. The rest of the series, however? It’s a little odd and a tiny bit preachy. The final installment, Son, spent an inordinate amount of time discussing climbing a cliff and a really bizarre supernatural twist. It was okay, but I think The Giver would have been better off with an epilogue than an additional 3 books.

son

6. The Death Cure by James Dashner. I started out loving The Maze Runner books and they progressively got less awesome. I mean, the ending was okay, but it felt like a cop out. Like Dashner couldn’t come up with a really supremely awesome ending and just sort of threw one in? Eh. Just not fantastic.

7. Reached by Ally Condie. I should start this out by saying that this book was by far my favorite in the Matched trilogy. I was actually very pleased with the direction the series went in the end, but GAH. The series as a whole was just such a disappointment for me. Love triangle. Bits and pieces of other dysopias all over the place. Just… No.

Jury is Out

(These series are not yet finished, but I’m invested, so….)

8. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It’s highly unlikely that I WON’T love the final installment of the Outlander series, aside from the fact that I’ll be a big ridiculous crybaby because it’s over…

9. Divergent by Veronica Roth. I’m pretty stoked for the upcoming release of Allegiant. It will totally make or break the series for me. It’s due out Oct 22. Very excited!

Divergent hc c(2)

10. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I can’t say that I think these are the greatest books ever, but I have enjoyed the novelty of Cinder and Scarlet so far. I love fractured fairy tales- it’s okay that they’re predictable, they’re FAIRY TALES. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes, in spite of the occasional cheesiness.

What about you, Bookworms? Got a series ender that you loved and/or hated?! Tell us about it!

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Oct 03

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

Asia, Coming of Age, Historical Fiction 28

G’Day Bookworms!

How’s everyone doing today? It’s Thursday, and that’s always good because that means tomorrow is Friday. You know what else is always good? Reading. (Ooooh smoooooooth segue, Katie.) A few years back I read The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, so when I saw that he had a new release coming out I was pretty excited. Today we’re going to talk about Songs of Willow Frost

songs of willow frostFULL DISCLOSURE: I received copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. There’s no need to worry that my opinions have been swayed by freebies, as I’m notoriously ungrateful. I never once sent Santa Claus a thank-you note. 
Songs of Willow Frost begins with a 12  year old William Eng. It’s 1934 and he’s living in an orphanage. He never knew his father, and his mother gave him up for adoption when he was 7. He never knew exactly what became of his mother and the uncertainty haunts him… Until the day the boys of the orphanage are taken to a movie in celebration of their collective birthdays. There, William finds himself face to face with his mother- on the big screen.
Because the film in which William’s mother was featured was actually a promotion for a touring theater company, William and his best friend (a blind girl named Charlotte) make plans to run away from the orphanage, catch the show, and reunite William with his long lost mother. You know, assuming the mysterious Chinese songstress in the promo and in the fliers is, in fact, William’s mother. Nobody ever accused 12-year-olds of being exceptionally rational.
Alright, so you guys already know that I dig historical fiction in a big way, right? I’ve also got a bit of a soft spot for books based on China and Chinese immigrants to the US. The culture is fascinating and heartbreaking. In this case, it’s mostly heartbreaking. You want to get riled up about women’s rights? Read this book and try not to scream. It’s so infuriating because these things really happened. Turns out the “Roaring Twenties” were only truly roaring if you were wealthy and white. Poor Chinese girls? They seriously got the shaft. This book hits on some really intense and unpleasant topics including abusive parents, sexual assault, overt racism, sexism, discrimination and forced sterilization. I KNOW! But it was totally a THING and it was totally AWFUL. 
The book, however? It was fabulous. I love reading about the grittier bits of history. It makes me grateful to be living in the here and now with all my lady rights and protections and whatnot. Gender equality certainly isn’t at 100% but it’s a heck of a lot better than it was back in the day. Oye. I found the book to be a quick read and a nice change of pace from my self imposed scare-tastic October reading list.
Anybody else out there a historical fiction fan? What are you most grateful for in the here and now? Tell me about it!

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Sep 24

Banned Books Week 2013: Top Ten Tuesday Goes Rogue!

Banned Books, Classics, Coming of Age, Dystopian, Memoirs, Top Ten Tuesday, Young Adult Fiction 49

Howdy Bookworms!

Today is Tuesday and you know how much I love lists. I normally link up with the fantastic ladies at The Broke and the Bookish and participate in their weekly topics, but this week I’m going rogue. In honor of Banned Books Week, I’ve decided to forgo The Broke and Bookish topic this week (although they’re talking about sequels, so I encourage you to take a trip over there and check it out!) Instead, I’m going to continue my celebration of Banned Books Week and list some of my favorite banned books! Ready?!

toptentuesday

1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. This book has been challenged for its realistic depictions of slavery and the South during the Civil War. There are absolutely elements in this book I can see making people uncomfortable- the attitudes of the characters toward black people are ugly to say the least. HOWEVER, I think it’s important to preserve that history. Understanding how such a hideous institution could have ever been considered acceptable is critical to keeping it from happening again. Sweeping an embarrassing past under the rug doesn’t do anything for anyone. PLUS, this book tells an amazing story. It would be tragic to lose that!

2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Ironic much? The book about the dangers of burning books is banned? Apparently at some point a school in California took offense with the language and issued a version to their students with all the “hells” and “damns” blocked out. Because, really?

3. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. This book is often challenged for a myriad of reasons. Profanity, race depiction, and homosexuality only scratch the surface. Whatever, Book Banners. The Color Purple is all kinds of awesome whether you like it or not!

The color purple is totally a metaphor. It's not like they talk about purple stuff all the time. So, if you're just like a purple enthusiast? This might disappoint you.

The color purple is totally a metaphor. It’s not like they talk about purple stuff all the time. So, if you’re just like a purple enthusiast? This might disappoint you.

4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. The objections to Brave New World are fairly predictable. I mean, okay, so there might be rampant drug usage, casual sex, and the occasional orgy. The thing is, none of those activities are made to sound appealing in the slightest. It’s the ultimate cautionary tale. It’s the stuff dystopian nightmares are made of.

5. Forever by Judy Blume. Oh Judy Blume. How do I love thee? I’ve written before about my unabashed adoration for Are You There God? It’s Me Margaretbut Forever has had it’s share of challenges, too. It’s not surprising, really, this book is about teenagers who have S-E-X. Facts are facts, though. The average person loses his or her virginity at 17. It’s not realistic to pretend that teens in all their hormone riddled glory are all going to remain abstinent. It’s also silly to assume that every kid who reads this sort of book is going to go out and find someone to get naked with. What I love about Forever is that it’s a very realistic story of first love. They talk about the scary stuff- STDs, birth control, emotional investment. It also depicts heartbreak. Honestly, I think this book is more likely to talk teens OUT of having sex than it is to talk them INTO it. 

forever

6. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. On the off chance you didn’t read my rant on the subject yesterday, please go have a look. Click here!

7. The Giver by Lois Lowry. Seriously, what is there to object to in this one? For heaven’s sake, they all take pills so there’s no sex, no sexual desires, no random make-out sessions- nada. It’s set in a dystopian society in which things are so tightly controlled that even color is forbidden. It’s like Pleasantville. It’s a fabulous book (better than all its sequels) and its a great challenging read for the middle school set.

8. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. Yes, yes. Sexual assault, casual profanity, alcoholism. I know. But really, it’s all about overcoming adversity. It has the added benefit of convincing teenagers that they don’t have it so bad. This realization may be fleeting and replaced quickly by more pressing teenage concerns, but learning to think about things from someone else’s perspective is a part of growing up. If a book can help with that? Heck yes, kids should be reading it!

glass castle

9. 1984 by George Orwell. Whaaat? A totalitarian dystopian society raising a ruckus? Why that’s unheard of! Kidding, of course. This book touches on issues of privacy, censorship, sexual repression… It’s sort of the opposite of Brave New World, but terrifying in its own way. I can see why it might freak people out, but censoring a book about censorship? Bad form!

10. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Huck and Jim’s trick down the mighty Mississippi has landed on the banned books list a time or three. Critics cite racist overtones and language as their major objections. Language complaints cause would-be readers to miss out on one of the greatest classics in American literature, and that would be a travesty. Long live Huck Finn!

Have any of your favorites ended up on a banned list? Any of your beloved tomes being challenged? Tell me about it, Bookworms. Let’s get our rebellion on!

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