This year my old high school distict has had a bit of publicized controversy. A man named Dean Audet petitioned to have The Perks of Being A Wallflower banned.
“Last time I checked it is illegal to distribute pornography to minors,” said Audet, who objects to sections that he says include young people having sex, graphic instructions on how to masturbate and child molestation.
He has sass, I’ll give him that.
Get a class full of teenagers, tell them that somewhere in the story there are graphic instructions on how to masturbate, and watch the percentage of students completing the book skyrocket. Anything that gets kids reading is a good thing in my mind. Banning a book is never the answer, but I think having a few books in the curriculum with some controversial material could actually be beneficial in keeping kids interested. It’ll let them know that not everything out there is Heart of Darkness (which should also be read, of course, because it’s great – and has its own controversy, but you get the point).
That said, I haven’t read The Perks of Being A Wallflower, but I’m willing to bet he’s exaggerating the naughty content somewhat. I’m sure it’s all in there, but he sounds like the sort of person who would take one line from the novel and make it sound like it’s a quarter of the story.
This has a happy ending, at least. The committee reviewed the novel and deemed it appropriate for the school. It’s a win for education for once. If anything, this will just get more people reading the novel. The best thing that can happen to an author is having a parent try to get his or her novel banned.