Although Banned Books Week was last week, the banning continues. John Green’s 2012 novel “The Fault In Our Stars,” a book about teenagers in love -- one of whom has stage 4 cancer -- has been banned from the Riverside Unified School District middle schools in California, the (Riverside) Press Enterprise reported.
All three copies of the best-seller were pulled from the Frank Augustus Miller Middle School library shelves, and the district won’t allow other schools to buy or accept the book as a donation. “The Fault In Our Stars” will still be in high school library bookshelves, said Christine Allen, a committee chairperson and librarian of Arlington High School. The film adaptation of the book, meanwhile, remains one of the most profitable of the year, so far grossing more than $124 million.
Karen Krueger, a parent who complained about the book’s plot, language and sexual content, said the book was inappropriate for her children. She complained to the principal in May after her daughter brought the book home. “I just didn’t think it was appropriate for an 11-, 12-, 13-year-old to read,” she told the Press Enterprise. “I was really shocked it was in a middle school.” As a result of her complaint, a committee of teachers, parents, a librarian and a principal voted 6-1 to pull it out of middle schools in the district. Krueger had suggested it be removed or be made available for checkout only with parental consent.
Parent and committee member Julie Boyes, who voted against banning the book, said she thought Green was trying to depict the experience of a 16-year-old girl with cancer who made the choice to have sex because she might not make it to 17.
“The thing that kept hitting me like a tidal wave was these kids dealing with their own mortality, and how difficult that might be for an 11-year-old or 12-year-old reading this book,” Betsy Schmechel, who was on the committee and is a principal of a Riverside middle school, said of the book.
John Green responded to the ban on his Tumblr with irony -- and a healthy dose of sarcasm.”I guess I am both happy and sad,” he wrote to someone who asked how he felt. “I am happy because apparently young people in Riverside, California, will never witness or experience mortality since they won’t be reading my book, which is great for them. But I am also sad because I was really hoping I would be able to introduce the idea that human beings die to the children of Riverside, California, and thereby crush their dreams of immortality.”