Banned, But Never Shamed

I woke up this morning to the news that TWENTY BOY SUMMER, along with Kurt Vonnegut’s SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, has been officially banned from the Republic, Missouri school district.

That’s right, the crazy train has finally derailed. You all might remember the SpeakLoudly issue from last fall, as it took up lots of blog space here after the book was initially challenged in the district by Wesley Scroggins, a parent whose own kids don’t even go to the public school, along with Vonnegut’s book and Laurie Halse Anderon’s beautiful novel, SPEAK.

Not surprisingly, the whole thing caused a major uproar (particularly among the great citizens of Republic, most of whom find Scroggins’ actions as deplorable as I do). But that was just a challenge. Last night, nearly a year after the challenge was issued, after convening committees and discussion groups and who knows what else, the board made their decision. SPEAK stays (thankfully!), but Vonnegut and I are out. You can read the whole article in the News-Leader, but here are a few juicy tidbits:

“We very clearly stayed out of discussion about moral issues. Our discussions from the get-go were age-appropriateness,” [Superintendent Vern Minor] said.

Minor also stated:

“Most schools stay away from this and they get on this rampage, the whole book-banning thing, and that’s not the issue here. We’re looking at it from a curriculum point of view.”

Um, okay. Let’s just get this on the record right now: Twenty Boy Summer was never part of the curriculum. It was simply available in the school library for students to check out and read on their own time. So clearly, this wasn’t about the curriculum.

The article goes on:

Minor said feedback [from the committee] for “Twenty Boy Summer,” available in the library, focused on “sensationalizing sexual promiscuity.” He said questionable language, drunkenness, lying to parents and a lack of remorse by the characters led to the recommendation.

“I just don’t think it’s a good book. I don’t think it’s consistent with these standards and the kind of message that we want to send,” he said. “…If the book had ended on a different note, I might have thought differently.”

So… just so I’m clear on this (forgive me for not catching on right away — I’m a little slow, since my brain is so addled by the long hard hours it puts in each day devising ways to sensationalize sexual promiscuity and questionable language and whatnot), you’re staying out of a discussion about moral issues, yet stating that if the characters in Twenty Boy Summer had been remorseful about sex, language, or lying to parents, then you might have thought differently? That it’s not consistent with messages you want to send?

Again, I’m a little fuzzy on how morals work, obviously, since I’m so busy making sure my books influence teens not to have any morals, but… how is that not a moral discussion? How is that not a moral judgment?

Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more. I get that my book isn’t appropriate for all teens, and that some parents are opposed to the content. That’s fine. Read it and decide for your own family. I wish more parents would do that — get involved in their kids’ reading and discuss the issues the books portray. But don’t make that decision for everyone else’s family by limiting a book’s availability and burying the issue under guise of a “curriculum discussion.”

But you all know my views on banning books — any books. What I really want to say today is this (close your eyes, Dr. Scroggins, as you’ll likely find this content alarming):

Not every teen who has sex or experiments with drinking feels remorseful about it. Not every teen who has sex gets pregnant, gets someone pregnant, or contracts an STD. Not every teen who has sex does so while in a serious relationship. Not every teen who has sex outside of a relationship feels guilty, shameful, or regretful later on. And you can ban my books from every damn district in the country — I’m still not going to write to send messages or make teens feel guilty because they’ve made choices that some people want to pretend don’t exist.

That’s my choice. And I’ll never be ashamed of my choice to write about real issues.

You know what, just for Dr. Scroggins, I’m giving away 2 copies of TWENTY BOY SUMMER to random commenters. Happy reading, all. And thanks for speaking loudly! Update: the winners have been chosen and notified by email, but please keep those comments coming! I appreciate the discussion and I’m so grateful for the outpouring of support! THANK YOU!

175 thoughts on “Banned, But Never Shamed

  1. I agree 100%. Banning a book doesn’t “solve the problem”. In fact it normally just gets a book even more exposure. Way to step up and speak out! I love your books, and honestly its because they are able to discuss difficult issues in a realistic and often thought provoking manner. 🙂

    • That is funny! That is what my husband said when I told him about the ban. LOL!!! I do wonder though if the Twilight series in their school library? Do they really want to go there? I just wonder if they truely thought this thru. My 10 yr old just read The Hunger Games in school as a class. When schools, churches, and people who think they know best, start taking control of parenting my kids, I get upset. It is up to me, not them what my kid listens to, watches, and reads. I want my kids to read. I want them to love to read. We are always looking for interesting stories we can all read and share.

    • When I studied abroad in Russia, my host mom proudly showed me her copy of Oscar Wilde that she’s had since it was banned in the Soviet Union. She pointed out that banning a book was the one way to make certain that everyone who was anyone read it.

      Hopefully this decision gives the book some new fans!

  2. I agree completely with what you said. I thought Twenty Boy Summer was an excellent book, and it is very realistic to how teenagers are these days. No teenager would want to read a book that portrays a teenage life as something simple and untrue. The book being banned for “poor morals,” or whatever the reason is completely ridiculous..just because a teen reads a book doesn’t mean they’re immediately going to run out and do the same things the characters do. I admire you for writing about real issues, like you said, because most authors aren’t willing to do that. Your books are wonderful, keep up the excellent work!

  3. I think the problem with “Adults” is that they forget how it feels to be a teenager. They also forget, that Teens like Adults, read for the pleasure of it. Most of them won’t attempt to go around running like Edward and drinking blood from deers… they won’t try to jump off buildings to be like Tris and find out if they too are Divergent. Teens read for the love of reading, and I find it irritating that “grown ups” still want YA writers to impart a lesson on morals. That is not the point of our writing.

    I read Twenty boy Summer which was deliciously written with perfect prose. And I bought a copy for my niece who is 15 to read. Does that make me an irresponsible adult? 🙂 Keep your chin up!

  4. I don’t think book banning solves any problem. teens are exposed to things everywhere- there’s no avoiding it- so how does it help to ban a book? I have read many books that were banned and after finishing it, didn’t even understand why it was banned… some you can tell, but it still isn’t right to ban something. Freedom of speech…. you’re taking away peoples’ rights to say what they want to say, in whatever manner they want. I loved twenty boy summer, and although at some parts it’s not something i’d want my little sister to read, why couldn’t teens read it? It was an amazing book and it made me cry…. and i hope i win this because i lost my copy… it was on my shelf and now its not… 😥 and none of my friends have it… so i think i lost it… 😦 i’m sad 😦

  5. Sarah, I’m disgusted and amused at the same time. I wonder if the board and Dr. Scroggins know how ridiculous they sound when they say things like “sensationalizing sexual promiscuity”? The comments on that article are quite entertaining, though….

  6. I live in Republic, MO and I am embarrassed about this decision by the school board. The vote was 4-0 with three members absent. That seemed weird to me. I will definitely remember this when it comes time to vote again. I am a high school teacher, in a different district, and I agree with everything you said about teens. Please don’t judge all of us here in SW MO by this horrible banning.

    • Hi Kelly,

      Thanks for stopping by! I absolutely don’t judge MO or Republic citizens by Dr. Scroggins’ or the board’s actions. The people of Republic — and the entire state — have been so amazing through the whole challenge. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and I appreciate all you do to get your students reading!

      • Thanks. I try. I live in a very conservative area. I grew up in VA and I don’t think this would have every happened. I think students should be exposed to all genres of literature and learn how to express their opinions amongst a group of varied people in a classroom setting because it is safe. Then those skills can be used throughout life. I wish school could be like it was when I was in high school (early 90s). Teachers have to worry all the time because of parents like Dr. Scroggins. The administration bows down to them and we get in trouble because we made their kids think! I choose to stay in this profession, but people have seemed to lose common sense when it comes to education.

  7. Hi Sarah,

    I read about the book being banned on your Mother’s facebook page, so I looked into it. I read the excerpt from your website, and I think it sounds like a great read! I have 3 daughters, and I’m sure all 3 will enjoy!! I agree with everyone who said banning the book only gives it more exposure!! Looking forward to reading it!!


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  9. Sarah,
    From working in an inner city school (in your former hometown of Buffalo) I can tell you that when I show them the banned books list, they laugh…yet that only makes them want to read it more. So as their teacher, I say-“Whatever gets them to read. I didn’t pick it out for them, afterall.” Keep plugging away. Your brother’s BF from OPHS!

  10. Oh, oh! Pick me! (And I’m with you on the parents reading with their kids. The crux of this issue is that these people don’t want to do that, so they try to make the institutions ‘protect’ their kids for them… parenting FAIL).

    The good news is, the kids in that school district will be SO curious about wha’ts in your book, sales will probably skyrocket 🙂

  11. I survived a challenge in my high school class to Vonnegut’s “Breakfast of Champions.”. It wasn’t pretty but the Board did not kick it out. Small, conservative town.

  12. I am at a loss for words, Sarah. I live in the district and just found out today too. I know I’m fired up about it now, but I really want to pull my daughter from that district if they are making decisions like that. I will fight to the end, though. Thanks for letting everyone know!

  13. I’m sick over this. Thank you for writing honestly about teens, Sarah, and for speaking out. Mostly, I feel sorry for the young people who attend these schools.

  14. “And you can ban my books from every damn district in the country — I’m still not going to write to send messages or make teens feel guilty because they’ve made choices that some people want to pretend don’t exist.”

    *standing ovation*

  15. I am ashamed to say that my daughter is in the Republic, MO school district. Only going into first grade, but this is what we’re surrounded with around here. Trying to do my best to keep honest discussion open with her and not shelter her from the big bad world. Someday she’s going to have to go out into that big bad world without me and she needs to be prepared.

  16. To me, the whole method they even went about this is just ridiculous. I’m a parent in the Republic, MO school district as well and didn’t know about this at all until the newspaper article today.

    I’m completely against the idea of banning books…especially books that aren’t even part of a literary curriculum. They’re just removing material from the library…it’s absurd.

    A teacher & friend of mine in Republic posted a link here, glad she did. Sorry for the craziness of the people involved with this decision.

  17. Hey I live in the next town over, andam dumbfounded at the idocracy in school boards these days. I remember when Judy Blume was banished from schools ( of course I read every book!!). I also read nearly every thing my 13 year old reads ( I actually read Hunger Games before she did). If parents are PARENTS then schools could TEACH. (and not teach to the test!) and parents could be the pardent!

  18. It’s so tempting to buy extra copies of the book, like oh, 12 or so, and mail them to the local community library in Republic.

    • Oh fear not, the community library in Republic (and it’s related branches) have several copies of all three of these books. It was simply the school library that was affected.

  19. I especially like your comment: “I wish more parents would do that–get involved in their kids’ reading and discuss the issues the books portray.” I teach high school English and find that too many parents don’t get involved at all, and too many parents that do get involved make judgments without reading the book or knowing all the facts surround their child’s choice in reading it. I appreciate your candor, and completely agree that teens want to read about the issues that relate to their lives. So often we find sugar-coated versions of life, and kids cannot see themselves; therefore, they do not take the time to ponder, consider, and get answers to the questions they are asking. I have not yet read your book, but I certainly will. I also believe that once I share this post and book talk Twenty Boy Summer, I will not be able to keep it on my classroom shelf. Without even reading your book, I can honestly say: Thank you for helping me make readers!

  20. Hi Sarah!

    As one of the Missouri State students who took place in the Speak Loudly event, I can say that, once again, I’m ashamed that Scroggins is a member of our faculty. From my experience, I can assure you that he is the exception at our university, not the rule. All of my English professors were just as surprised and saddened to hear about the book banning as I was. I’m disappointed to hear that Twenty Boy Summer and Slaughterhouse Five were removed from shelves, but hopefully that won’t discourage teen readers to seek those books out at their local library!

  21. Good for you! Keep writing from your heart and stand up to those who would censor our society back to the Plymouth Colony. It is only by confronting the tough issues and talking about the reality of our modern world that we can teach our children to make good decisions. Keep fighting the good fight and know that the majority of us who have moved on past The Enlightenment aren’t going to let the vocal minority drag this country backwards without a fight.

  22. I am in a book club in Spfld, Mo, and every year we dedicate one month’s read to “banned books”. Every member chooses a banned to book read, and then presents on that book to the group. I am a mom to 8 and 10 year old girls, and I am of the “read everything you can get your hands on” philosophy. Please know this is a powerful minority making an unpopular decision.

  23. I read Twenty Boy Summer and then I gave it to my 17 year old. I’m not scared of what she’ll read in books. I’m scared about her not reading books like this. Reading is knowledge, knowledge is power.

  24. While I can certainly understand the desire to keep some topics out of open classroom discussion*, I am horrified by actually banning of books. They should certainly be there for the reading!

    *I think it really depends on the teacher’s control. Some teachers (sorry teachers!) don’t have the control necessary to keep a room full of 17 year olds from making comments they should not, and I can see the possibility of it turning into mild harassment for some students.

    • Thank you, I’m glad someone else feels the way I do! When I was in high school, I hated the books we read in class because of the topics that were in them. I don’t feel that it’s my teacher’s job to shove tough topics (and thus, his beliefs) down my throat. In class, the books should all be ‘classics’; leave the tough, ‘modern’ issues to me alone so I don’t have to listen to the opinions of a bunch of neanderthals who don’t know what they believe in high school! Obviously, many people don’t agree with me, but try to think about it from my side. My opinions on drinking, sex, smoking, drugs, homosexuality, etc, were extremely different than my peers (and I DID know my opinions, just in case you think I must be a moron because my opinions are different than yours. I’m still amazed that I can’t even hold an intelligent conversation with most people my own age, because they don’t know what they believe!), and I was often hurt because I was required to state my opinions, and the other students ridiculed me for it, often in front of my teachers, who just didn’t care enough to help. I’ve run into the same issue in college, but now I’m old enough to stand up for myself (without crying in the school bathroom) and argue with students who aren’t quite as stupid. These issues should be covered by the parents. I’m pretty sure in English class I should have be learning how to spell and use comas, not argue my opinions about drinking. This became a major issue in the harassment I exprerienced in high school.

  25. Before it was banned I hadn’t heard of your book. Now I would like to read it. Surely others share my view. Stupid rednecks.

  26. I just wanted to say how much i agree with what you’re saying in this post…my YA book comes out next year and I felt the same way as you writing it. Who am I to impose unrealistic morals for teens? I just want to give them something to think about that might reflect their own experience and make them feel a little less freaky. I hope more people buy your book because it’s been banned!

  27. I’m so sorry this has happened to you. I hate that the bought the bible in to it, saying that your book’s principles are contrary to it (religious texts aren’t suppose to dictate anything in school). Have these people on the board or Scroggins flipped through the bible. It’s not all sugar, spice and everything nice. If I was in your school district and heard a book had been banned, the first thing I’d do is go out and buy it whether I wanted to read it before or not because nobody can decide what I want to read. Maybe after this decision some people who might not of read or heard about your book will. And why is a parent of children who are not in public school (and therefore not affected) have a say? Yes, he’s allowed his opinion, but I can’t believe in the end, they listened to him.

  28. I graduated from Republic in 2002 and I am embarassed to call this district my alma mater. Republic has always been a heavily Christian-based community but when I was in it, never ever did Christianity and education cross in this manner. People had more of a “live and let live” mentality with the exception of a few crazies throughout the years. I now add Mr. Scroggins to that category.

    I and many of my peers were reading young adult before young adult was a genre. We read the classics of Vonnegut and Orwell, we read the offbeat fiction of Hunter S. Thompson and the fantasy novels of Terry Goodkind. We’re now doctors, geneticists, librarians, lawyers – certainly not the dysfunctional citizens Mr. Scroggins would paint us out to be.

    More power to you Sarah and please keep writing. Thank “god” for public libraries! 😉

  29. Aw I’m so sorry and disgusted to hear about this! Twenty Boy Summer is one f my favorite books ever annd for these people to say those things about it and it’s “morals” is stupid. 😦
    -Faith, 14

  30. I just finished this book and it was really good! I think it taught lessons maybe should be read and discussed with a parent if the parent has an issue with it but it is a really good book! Well anyway it will probably get more attention now that it is banned! Which is good for this book and author because the book is great!!

  31. Way to go! Turn this into something positive! I read many books that have sex, smoking, drinking. I have done none of these things. We cant go around blaming books and media for our decisions.

  32. I am outraged that a school district near where I live is so narrow-minded! There is more going on behind the scenes here than meets the eye….very odd that not all board members were present when the vote was taken. It’s also very odd that only one board member had even read the books in question. Mr. Wesley Scroggins is a moron!!

  33. Hi Sarah,
    I have to say I’ve never heard of your book, I stumbled across this because I saw Vonnegut when someone posted this on twitter, but I can’t stand the banning of books, or any art in general. Thank you for standing up for your work and keep doing what you do. I will make sure to go read your book. Most of my favorite books are banned somewhere or another.

  34. I had not been following this situation as we have moved from the area. Thanks for the update and the wise commentary. I thought districts had ended the craze over banning books. The bright side, though, is that it brings more attention to your book and now the students will really want to read it. There’s nothing more appealing to a teenager than those things they are told not to do.

  35. No offense, but I never read your book. I will, however, if only to claim I read 3 more of the challenged books than the board. I just graduated in the midst of all this and I’m disgusted, as is, from what I can tell, most of the community. It’s bad for the school, the teachers, the students, and the city of republic (making them seem like they’re a community of closed-minded individuals). Vonnegut’s book is the most influential piece of literature I’ve read in the school, its style the one book I’ve been able to identify with completely, the fatalist attitudes(with the notion that we should work past it), weird para-science, cynicism and black humor, it’s a masterpiece. Don’t get me wrong, 90% of the books I read in the curricula were great, but Vonnegut’s was the best.

    I would like to place my perspective of the administration. In the initial review of the books by Minor, he agreed with Scroggins on every point, only limiting ideas such as pulling textbooks teaching evolution. It’s obvious that his agenda is the same, and Vern Minor is all about Vern Minor’s agenda. He instituted a Kagan program, which is a cooperative learning program researched on young children that was applied to all ages. Obviously he thinks we shouldn’t be exposed to real life issues, he thinks study methods suitable for 8th graders should be carried all the way up to the senior class. He also makes money off of it, as he and his wife are second only to the Kagans, and I believed he developed it with them. For the past few years, he’s hopped from district to district, and I believe, though for this part I have no proof necessarily, he uses his systems to provide false results from districts that generally are well-performing already to claim that the Kagan system was the reason. In actuality, Kagan’s implementation is at best a butt of jokes in the school; no one takes it seriously, not even the teachers(some, anyway).

    Not to mention the school board, parents of kids in the district who bully their way into good grades for said students. One teacher was even fired, partially for this reason.

  36. I love your stance on this issue. Books for young adults shouldn’t be limited to those that promote only “approved” moral standards.

  37. Perhaps people who have not read the books should not be allowed to ban them. I am disgusted and appalled that this is even an option. I cannot help but think of another author, Ray Bradbury, and his cautionary work, “Fahrenheit 451″. His ominous warning seemed so outlandish to some but others can see the truth in his thoughts. ” You see, it’s… it’s no good, Montag. We’ve all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal. ” As soon as we stop challenging ourselves and others to think for themselves we surrender our freedom to be individuals. When morality is determined by one faction we must all assimilate to their beliefs and practices. If reading certain books is determined to be wrong we won’t do it, if the leaders determine marrying outside our race is wrong we stop doing that, and if it is decided that challenging authority is wrong we become subservient. This seems far-fetched and ranting,however, it is more realistic than it seems. We slowly yield to bullies by surrendering on seemingly small issues and end up giving up our right to be unique.

  38. Amusingly, “Wesley Scroggins” could name the curmudgeon from a novel on this very subject.

  39. Didn’t read the book. But standing in a row with Vonnegut? It could be worster…

  40. This is so wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to start…so I won’t. You’ve already said it all, anyway.

    Speak truth and speak loud. Repeat as often as necessary.

  41. I think your stand is wonderful and I agree – these discussions are better held when parents read the books and discuss with their family why the might not be appropriate at this age . . .

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  43. I’m just here to say that I love love love you. And your book. Wesley Scroggins is no kind of hero (as if his name didn’t already give you that clue). 🙂 xoxoxo

  44. I am honestly flabbergasted. I never have and I probably never will understand banning any literature. We have this great medium that we can share so many viewpoints with. If we ban everything that doesn’t fit with our view then we will turn into cookie-cutter zombies. To me it feels like the school board just said our kids are too stupid, that they would read a book and blindly follow it. I think that this is like “romance novels kill marriages” thing. Most people can tell real from fake. I have not read your book but I plan too. Sorry, I don’t think banning literature is ever a good idea and I’ve gone on a rant.

  45. Congratulations on being put on a short list with Vonnegut!!! You must be glowing with pride – keep up the good fight.

    I would imagine that this banning has many thoughtful Republic, MO, HS students rushing to Amazon, or maybe a Springfield public library, to get their hands on a copy. I know that would be my reaction!

  46. You have the right attitude. I am a bookseller. Just for this, I’m facing out both your book and Vonnegut’s. And suggesting them both more often than I already do. As an English major, moral criticisms of books is the most useless kind of criticism. You stay proud!

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  50. Hi, Sarah. I hate to hear that your book was banned. In my opinion, the powers that be only ban books that are intellectually stimulating due to narrow-mindedness. If I hear about a book being banned, it automatically makes it more attractive to me, therefore, I will be reading 20BS. By the way, I read this from a post on Sarah MacLean’s facebook page. Just know that you must be doing something right if your work is banned!

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  52. Boy, I’d love to be on the same shelf with Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, JD Salinger! Talk about great company. Besides, there’s lots of rape (Tamar, Dinah, Lot’s daughters), teen pregnancy (Mary, among others) and drunkenness (Noah, for one) in the Bible, along with slaughter and unmarried sex galore. And they weren’t all remorseful,either.

  53. Pingback: Today in book banning… « Derek Hawkins

    • Its a little ridiculous how parents and educators alike believe that sweeping something under the rug will get rid of the problem completely. These people believe that “if we don’t talk about it, it will NOT happen”, which is a completely false sense of security, not to mention DENIAL. I can see a parent eventually asking this question “How did my daughter get pregnant? I never talked about sex with her! I never gave her birth control options ( duh, then she’d have sex…)” .
      Authors like yourself, who open discussion and show the realities of being a teen are completely amazing in my book. Its understandable that some teens are not mature enough to handle the content, but there are some who are. Pushing these issues under the rug can only last so long, eventually there will be no more room under that rug.

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  56. Please take the ban as the highest form of flattery. Adolescents are engulfed by a deluge of moralistic and manipulative texts designed to socially condition them. Your refusal to participate in this is, of itself, an act of rebellion.

    I must confess that it gas taken this debacle to make me aware of your work. However, I feel compelled to inform that you have acquired at least one new reader.

    As a High school teacher, I’ll be able to request that our library stock this text. Hopefully that will acquire further readers. If you give me an email address, I’ll gladly keep Professor Scroggins informed of my progress!

  57. Banning books, well, that just makes me want to read them even more. Choice to read something or not that is what we have here in America, not at this school though. Just because it’s not in the school doesn’t mean it’s not available. My son and I were discussing book burnings just this week. If something were banned, I’m sure it would have a safe place in my home. Banned with Vonnegut, sweet company! I have read every book that my kids had to and whether or not I liked the material, at least we could discuss the subject and my kids would have their parents view on the matter.

  58. Good for you. If it makes you feel better, being in the company of banned books like Speak and Slaughterhouse Five is pretty distinguished company. I understand that parents want to close their eyes and pretend like issues such a teenage sexuality and pregnancy don’t exist, but it doesn’t make any sense to try to make everyone else do that. I haven’t read your book, but I’m definitely one to stand up against banning books anywhere.

    Also, has Scroggins actually even read the books? I think probably not. He claims that the books teach things that are against the bible. I’m not going to claim that that needs to be a prerequisite for any book, but how can anyone claim that Speak teaches you something contrary to the bible? Where in the Bible does it say that you shouldn’t speak up when you are the victim of a crime?

    I’m glad that Speak didn’t get banned, but how can a decision ever be made based on “I just don’t think it’s a good book” ? That is just outright ridiculous. There are lot’s of books that I don’t like, but you don’t see me out there campaigning for bannings.

    In any case, I’m sure that having your book banned will actually result in more publicity. I haven’t read your book, but I’m sure a lot more interested in reading it now that it has been banned. Send them a letter thanking them for the free publicity!!

  59. “I just don’t think it’s a good book” is one of the worst reasons I can think of to ban a book. You don’t think it’s a good book? Awesome. No one is forcing you to read it. But making decisions for other people based on your own tastes? Not awesome. In fact, it makes me angry, because by inflicting your own values and judgments on everyone else, you are denying everyone else the chance to read that book and maybe take more away from it than this person clearly did (and that’s assuming they even read it – and there’s a very good chance they didn’t).

    And kudos to you for refusing to let yourself be bullied by these people and let them decide what story you should tell!

  60. I have never seen this put better. Whatever your opinion on banning books (mine is that it’s usually negative and ineffective) I think the most important thing is that it be treated as a DISCUSSION, not between parents and author or school board members and librarians, but between adults and children – books are not giving you a hard and fast code to live by, but presenting ways of looking at life, and while they might not be YOUR way of looking at it, or even perhaps the right way, nothing is helped and no one is saved by hiding these other views away.
    One thing that has come out of this on the positive side is a new term has been coined: “scroggined” 🙂

  61. Undoubtedly this will be great exposure for your book–every kid in that school district will probably seek it out to see why the adults banned it, and students in other schools as well if they hear about this. I may or may not want my kids to read it, but I sure wouldn’t want my school district to ban it. Still, sounds like good company to be in, with Vonnegut. I bet the author of SPEAK is even jealous that her book didn’t get banned as well. Congratulations!

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  63. I want to commend you for everything you’ve said in response to this bunch of ridiculous crap. I would honestly love to read your book, I hope I’m the lucky comment that will win a copy.

    I can relate on some level, as a writer. Back in November, I self-published my personal journal titled “Sex, Drugs & Being an Escort.” I will openly admit, your book sounds like my teenage years — lots of sex with multiple partners that never once made me feel guilty or ashamed — why should it?

    I empathize with you in so many ways. You’re right, sex and adolescents really do involve tons of things that so many adults would like to pretend aren’t real and they will put so much effort into hiding it from children, which will never work.

    I feel badly for any young person who experiences guilt or shame over something as natural as sex, because the people around them are banning books like this. It’s wrong, because these are children who are still very easy to influence and it can really mess with their heads to be brainwashed by narrow-minded parents and school staff.

    I don’t think it was right that your book was taken out of these libraries — it’s censorship and it’s absolutely unfair. Sorry, trying not to swear much in this (don’t want to moderated out) but it’s difficult because I feel strongly about this.

    Wonder who the hell decided so long ago that sex was wrong and people should either not do it at all (won’t happen, never has) or emotionally beat themselves up when they engage in it, outside of reproducing. It makes no sense, don’t even know where that came from or why people still seem so adamant about it.

    Having been a promiscuous teenage girl growing up in a small-town with conservative parents, I have dealt with my share of judgement and disapproval from family and others. I have chosen to move forward always and trust my own sense of what is right for me. Everyone is different, obviously. If you’re not hurting anyone, what makes your actions so bad? In my personal opinion, those random hookups, brief infatuations, and the more involved relationships that result with some of the guys you sleep with as a young woman is all very much a part of growing up, learning and becoming who you are. There is so much to be learned from these interactions and if people would stop trying to convince girls that it’s so awful, maybe that would be easier for so many of them to embrace. Just my two cents.

  64. …the great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom respectable. No virtuous man–that is, virtuous in the Y.M.C.A. sense–has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading…
    H.L. Mencken

  65. If I know teenagers, I think the school district just guaranteed that more kids are going to read those two books now that they have been banned. I bet by years end half the kids in that district will have found some way to get their hands on a copy. If I told my son not to read a book, or his school banned it, his naturally curious mind would HAVE to know what all the fuss was about. Just saying.

  66. I recommend your books to EVERYONE!!! EVERYONE!!

    People can be so stupid. It’s like – HEY! Maybe if we hold our hands over our ears tight enough, we won’t hear and the world will become a better place – same kind of ignorance.

    On the positive side, you’re going to have kids from that area salivating to get their hands on your “scandalous” book.


  67. As I was once a teen who read voraciously all manner of content including adult novels by other novelists who have been banned in their day, if it hasn’t been banned somewhere, it might not be worth reading. Books are banned because they have reached people, even small minded people, and touched them with thoughts that awakened them in ways they never knew before. Sure it’s sad that some people think their thoughts are too powerful to share with others. Imagine, thoughts so original that our young people dare not think them too, ought to be proscribed belong at the bottom of some reading pile or the back of some literary bus. But for this mind, I can only say, “Congratulations!”

    “Clearly you have reached out with your powerful prose and touched some folks with your strength and we shudder in awe at your power.”

    Keep on writing and don’t worry that your work is failing for this episode is a sure sign you are climbing the ladder of achievement and reaching literary success. I have not read this fearsome novel yet but I long to do so if I can fit it into my reading schedule what with my upcoming semester looming large and all the prescribed reading that entails. I can only hope your resulting publicity brings you lots of new readers and you can join the celebrity ranks of so many other wrongfully dissed writers who have gone so famously before you.

  68. “I just don’t think it’s a good book. I don’t think it’s consistent with these standards and the kind of message that we want to send,” he said. “…If the book had ended on a different note, I might have thought differently.”

    His comment reminds me of the early lesbian pulp fiction. One of the “rules” that the authors had to follow was that the lesbian protagonists were not allowed to have a happy ending. They had to end up as drunken alcoholics, broken down in a back alley or in an asylum for the insane or something. Clearly he wants your girls to not be having sex with condoms on the beach. They can have sex on the beach, but it must be unprotected, and they have to end up pregnant, or with stds or dying in a back alley abortion (because I suspect that abortion is not an option in Scroggins’ world). You have to punish all the girls who were boffin’ on the beach, and maybe one or two of the boys.

    My take has always been that I get to decide what MY child reads. No one else gets to make that decision and it just really chaps my hide that people like him are trying to parent my child when his values are so clearly not my own. That his children don’t even attend the school in question makes it even more heinious. Makes me want to go protest in Republic, since apparently you don’t need to have kids in the district to make the rules.

    I hadn’t read “Twenty Boy Summer” but now I’m going to go buy a copy this weekend if I can find it. Hope you enjoy the all the free press for your book!

  69. Book banners are book banners. Missouri is Missouri. No surprises here. These kind of things, sadly, you will have you always, like athlete’s foot and defective vision.

    • Not everyone in Missouri is the same! I aree with what you say except for Missouri is Missouri.

  70. I’m mid-30s and childless, so I’m very not up on the latest YA authors and trends. I first heard of you today via the Guardian article which linked to your blog. It warms the cockles of my deviant little heart to see an author refuse to treat young people like idiots, or paste “moral” lessons into her work. I’m planning to buy your book for my nieces, who are 14 and 16 and surprisingly able to think for themselves and make their own decisions.

  71. Their whole “oh, sex mustn’t be enjoyable, it must have unpleasant consequences” seems like an unhealthy attitude. More so when closely examined, as they’ll say the risk of pregnancy is an appropriate counterbalance to the joy of sex. Yep, you’ve got that right – the killjoys seem to view children as a sort of punishment! So much for family values.

  72. I love your books Sarah. It has me wondering how many of these people who wanted the book out of the library have actually read it?

    Keep doing what you’re doing because you’re awesome. 🙂

  73. Ms. Ockler,

    I heartily agree with your comments and I find it deplorable that some people are still so small-minded that they must force their opinions on the public at-large. What is even more upsetting is that the public allows this to happen! I can’t believe that there aren’t a majority of people in the Republic, MO school district who are distraught at book banning. What sort of world are we creating for our children? As for me, I may very well read your book at this point and decide for myself, but I would hope, as you mentioned, that more parents would do the same. My daughter is only two, but I will fight for her right to read books she has an interest in, regardless of someone else’s desire to censor what she reads.

  74. Started reading your book tonight. Loving it so far. I think you speak loudly about this issue — it is about CHOICE. Let kids choose. Let parents have the conversations. It’s real life. I’m shaking my head in disbelief. And guess what? Guess how many kids, teachers, parents, etc. will go out and read your book because of this uproar? You guessed. Lots! Just as you have the freedom to write, readers have the option to read. Let them read! Thank you and keep writing — you have many that support authors, books, and the love of reading!

  75. I have never read your books but based on reading this story and comments I can obviously conclude that Twenty Boy Summer is about the realtities of life. What about Twilight, Vampire Diaries, and other Sitanic books out there. Not to mention witchcraft books. Why aren’t those banned around the whole united states? What do vampires/sparkly fairies teach children? To get some fake fangs and slob over Edward on TV? girls would sell their souls just to get the opportunity to touch Robert Pattison, Justin Bieber, or Taylor Lautner. Why? Because of their “smokin hot looks”. What do they teach us? Because clearly Justin Bieber doesn’t teach nothing except having sex with Selena Gomez and singing about girls in every dang song. So you know what? As long as a story like yours is trying to bring out reality, forget the haters and the teens in denial! Move forward! Try not get off track with to much detail though. When a teen reads a little too much about sex of course their minds grow curious. They have no ways to control it. Remember the classics! Gone with the Wind, Jane Austen, etc. They had a way of making a certain scene seem so…nonexistent. There was no specific detail. Everythig just flowed. The reader would be left with the question of “what happened? Did they do anything?” so people would not know what would happened between the couple. Of course, nowadays there’s no dignity. If a guy tells a girl your beautiful she’d do anything for him just so he won’t dump her. Continue to “slap” teens in the face and show America what today’s world has become!

  76. That’s so crazy. People can make their own decisions about what they want to read. Just because you don’t agree with what a book says doesn’t mean that you can tell people not to read it.

  77. Honestly, this can’t hurt you… I am a teen girl who loves to read and just for the fact that your book has been banned makes me want to read it even more than I already had since I heard about it a while ago and I had no problem with the content it’s about. I really hate that adults think we are unable to think for ourselves. Books serve many purposes but ultimately it is up to the reader to convince themselves of what they want to get out of the book. I am 16 and mature enough to make up my mind for myself. No book can influence me so as to change my values that I’ve set for myself.

    Thank you for offering to give copies away! I would really like to read your book.

  78. Ughhhh… People like this make me soo mad. They have no right to ban a book. The author who wrote such banned book, put lots of time and effort into such book. It drives me bonkers. On the bright side you wrote a book that caused people to think. And for all we know the hicks in Missouri that banned this book, probably don’t like to think that often. If at all. There are sometimes that I hate living in the Midwest. (Kansas) Well, Sarah don’t feel too bad, I loved your book, an d I thought taht it didn’t have any of the stereotypical banned book material in it. This DR. person, apparently wanted to protect the children from what they experience in their everyday lives. These books are just works of fiction, and the authors imagination.

  79. I really can’t stand this guy. Last year he just irritated the piss out of me with all his ignorant ramblings, but now that he’s actually succeeded, I want to punch him in the face even more. Or maybe beat him upside the head with a copy of each of these books. Has this man never seen an episode of any Law & Order or CSI: anywhere? Or for that matter, the news! There is nothing in any book I’ve ever read that hasn’t at one point or another been featured, covered, publicized, or even sensationalized on one or more TV shows, or worse, news stations. Because, well ya know, teenagers never drink, do drugs, or have sex. Regardless of his ignorance, he did do one thing that isn’t terrible, he gained Twenty Boy Summer, Slaughterhouse Five, and Speak even more publicity than they had before, and I’m sure a whole new, well deserved audience. Congratulations, Sarah! You have now joined a large list of amazing and talented storytellers (most of which I love!). ❤

  80. I hope you can get someone at the public library to track the check outs of this book and your others for an equal period (say, 90 days) before and after this ‘banning’ happened. I would bet anything that you’ll see far more activity since than before

    Ironically, you probably ought to thank them for getting the word out about your work as you never could have hoped without them.

  81. I personally found some information in books, about topics that most people feel uncomfortable to talk about. My parents didn’t give me enough information about sex, they said just don’t do it. I had so many questions about it, and I only found my answers in my reading. I also learned things about getting drunk, what can happen when you’re not careful when drinking, like car accidents or forgotten memories. Also about high school in general, like there will be some friends you will cherish forever, and others you will out grow. I love every book I have in a different way. Books give you information in different ways, no story is the same. That’s what I love. One story someone can have fun partying, and the other could have a disastrous time at a party.

    And the thing about banning books from a school, it only has the opposite effect. Kids become interested. They want to see what they have been banned from. It’s happens when someone tells not to date a guy but you do it anyways. Or drinking underage. Or smoking and doing drugs. You ban something in a kids’ lives and they began to ask questions. I remember when there were so many parents who hated the Harry Potter series because of magic being evil. I read the books right away and fell in love with them. Pretty much it’s like reverse psychology.

    I do agree when you say that parents should get more involved with their kids reading. I read my sister’s books before I give them to her. I think more parents should do this.

    I love your books, SARAH!!! Never stop writing :), because unlike those people who don’t understand your books, we will still cherish them. I haven’t read your Twenty Boy Summer but I loved Fixing Delilah. Give me a book that will disappoint those haters.

    • I agree. Books have taught me so much about life, more than I could ever learn on my own. Books also teach me about the dangers of excessive partying, drinking, drugs, and sex in a way that doesn’t just say “no.” They provide examples of potential consequences and offer advice in ways to stay safe, even if that advice is to just not to do what the character’s done. Banning books is just silly because it creates an exciting taboo that people will want to experience for the thrill, and because it’s taboo, they won’t talk with parents who can guide them in the safe ways of doing it. So silly.

  82. I’m so glad that you’re being…optimistic! We all love your books and don’t need anyone telling us that we can’t read them! *hugs*

  83. i make a point of buying, reading and sharing banned books. Nobody is going to tell me what to read or blog about. I read Slaughterhouse 5 for the first time last year. great choice. will be looking for a copy of Twenty Boy Summer.

  84. This sounds like a great read. Some of my friends try to tell me not to read books with vampires because their supposed to be bad. But I read them anyway I let no one influence what I read.

  85. There’s not much to say here that hasn’t been said, but reading about the whole situation, I’m mostly frustrated that your wonderful, heartfelt, painfully realistic book about two best friends coping with death, moving on with life, and adjusting to their changing relationship was reduced to “sensationalizing sexual promiscuity.”

  86. I can think of no greater honor for a writer than being banned alongside the great Kurt Vonnegut. Job well done!

  87. Oh, what a rotten, rotten shame! I am a college-bound honors graduate of Republic High School who read the local news today, mentioning that 3 RHS students burned $12,000-$13,000 worth of haybales (which is awful, since farmers are having a tough season). The worst part is that someone commented on the article condemning the fact they read Slaughterhouse 5, which entailed them to commit this crime! “…it is just lucky they didnt read 20 Boy Summer, we woud likely be reading about rapes instead,” this commenter, NCO247365, said. That’s outrageous! But technically, he’s wrong. I know that one of the three suspects did not read the books because I knew him personally!
    You can follow the link below and see my rant at him/her for bonus points.

    • Oh, what a rotten, rotten shame! I am a college-bound honors graduate of Republic High School who read the local news today, mentioning that 3 RHS students burned $12,000-$13,000 worth of haybales (which is awful, since farmers are having a tough season). The worst part is that someone commented on the article condemning the fact they read Slaughterhouse 5, which entailed them to commit this crime! “…it is just lucky they didnt read 20 Boy Summer, we woud likely be reading about rapes instead,” this commenter, NCO247365, said. That’s outrageous! But technically, he’s wrong. I know that one of the three suspects did not read the books because I knew him personally!
      You can follow the link below and see my rant at him/her for bonus points.

      • Terribly sorry, but the comment and the reply are exactly the same, except for the links. The top one leads to the comment feed while the other leads to the actual article. My mistake!

  88. Great blog post – I love, love, love this response. And while it is deplorable for other people to force their views on what is or is not appropriate down other people’s throats, I have to say, I was previously unaware of your book. Yet now, having read this post, having gotten a feel for your writing style, your intelligence, and your viewpoint, I am greatly interested in reading it. So banning books sucks, but it IS nice that it brings attention to books and often leads to an increase in sales. More people reading! Even if it’s because they think they’re not supposed to.

    Again, great response. 🙂

  89. I will make it a point to read your book now, so they are not accomplishing what they have set out to do. I agree that being a banned book will probably up your notoriety and assist in getting your book out to more people now.

    I don’t understand how anyone in the education system can be a part of censorship.

    Do people realize that all a teenager has to do is turn on the t.v. to be bombarded with sex, drugs, violence, foul language, teen pregnancy etc. ?

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  91. You go girl!

    It’s preposterous for “real” issues to be ban from a district. As you said, not everyone is forced to pick up and read a copy of the book, so it should not be taken away from those whom would like to experience it.

    Thank you for continuing to write about real things in life, Sarah. Just do your thing!

  92. Well, congratulations on making it on a banned book list. Be assured that Dr. Scroggins and Mr. Minor have pretty much guaranteed that your book will be read by more people of all ages in Republic, Missouri and elsewhere than would have otherwise. Superintendant Minor can now be further assured that many copies of your book will pass through his jurisdiction’s hallowed halls in purses, backpacks, gym bags…right under his very nose!

    With the advent of ordering online from,, as well as e-books for Nooks, Kindles, Ipads, attempts to control what students read is silly. The school library has become an irrelevant battleground.

  93. Ridiculous… My 4yo just watched ‘Tangeled’… by DISNEY… which had guys getting beat up, having axes thrown at them, and all sorts of other violence… But put in anything at all about the basic functions of the Human body – breasts, pubic hair, sex, kissing, anything and suddenly it’s rated ‘R’. I think it’s stupid to ban books, but it’s worse for kids who are affected by the ban. My own kids will have access to public libraries, bookstores, and any book in my house that I think they are old enough to read without getting nightmares (I have an extensive Stephen King collection). I feel bad for all the kids in impoverished or other low resource homes whose oly source of reading material might be the school library. If I get picked for the prize, i am going to donate my copy to my local library so that the kids who don’t have access to it other ways can still read it. Thank you, and you are awesome for being so generous.

  94. He’s like a disgruntled book reviewer out of control! Why didn’t he just post a review on Amazon and not abuse his power? As far as your book goes though…I think he just gave you some might fine free publicity. 😉

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  96. Banning books = stupid idea. To me, books are for learning new things and expanding one’s imagination. I hate it that your book got banned. I’ve read Twenty Boy Summer and loved it. And I would love to read it again.

    P.S. I think this stupid guy that wanted the banned is a man with no life and just wanted to make kids miserable.

  97. Sometimes I’m happy that I live in so undeveloped country, and go to so undeveloped school so I can read whatever the hell I want to.

  98. It’s sad that children, especially teens are not held at higher standards. A lot of the reason we have such low test scores,etc. Is because we don’t give the younger generation the benefit of the doubt. Yeah they are learning, but if your not learning past the age of 18 that is so sad.
    I believe communication is key in making the world a better place for everyone and everything. So lets talk about sex and the dangers of STDs and unwanted pregnancies.
    I love to read and feel like those who cannot find the joy it that can have not found the right types of books. So lets not take books away when so many people have yet to find the joy it that we have. Hell for all we know that could be their gateway to the reading world.

    There is my two cents. Happy reading all. 😀

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  102. Love the concept of your blog! There are so many blogs out there that review the same books over and over, but what about banned books! They deserve attention too and I think your blog is absolutely fabulous 🙂 I will be watching your blog more closely from now on.
    Thanks for the giveaway and for getting those banned books out there!

  103. I definitely agree that more parents should get involved with their teens’ lives- including what they read. Schools banning books, though? Not helping. If I could told a few stories from just the past month, people might think twice before labeling certain YA books “irrelevant” and “over the line.”

  104. Thanks for this. I’m now really excited to read your book. I am no longer a young adult, but I still appreciate reading YA novels that approach the teen years with introspection and reality.

  105. I love this quote from the Huffington Post article about the TBS banning. “In this book,” Scroggins wrote, “drunken teens also end up on the beach, where they use their condoms to have sex.” Think Scroggins would prefer them to use their condoms to make balloon animals? Love you Sarah. So proud of your response to this. I feel cool just knowing you.

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  107. Thank you, Sarah! For writing what you want, for speaking out, for refusing to be judged, and for acknowledging that not all of us from MO are as ignorant as the school board in Republic. Shame on THEM! I will read your books and recommend them to my 17yr old daughter. She enjoyed Speak! And for chrissake, Kurt Vonnegut was an American icon and I am proud to own his books! Like others have pointed out, there was a bunch of ridiculous hoopla about the Harry Potter books….the county I lived in at the time (also in MO) actually had a Harry Potter book burning! I was absolutely horrified!

    A typical, but sad example here: years ago, a neighbor told me her 9 yr old daughter was not allowed to go to the first Harry Potter movie with us nor read the books. I politely said “Do you mind if I ask why?” She told me it was her husband’s idea. When I asked if she or her husband had read the books, she said no. It was their minister who had told them not to allow kids to be “exposed” to Harry Potter. I was astonished….WHY CAN’T PEOPLE THINK FOR THEMSELVES?!?

  108. Because of the banning, this book immediately goes on my To-Be-Read list. Little makes me angrier than book banning, and I like to thumb my nose at book banners by reading all those amazing banned books and blogging about it. Thank you for fighting back, and for writing the truth, both on your website and in your books. 🙂

  109. Although I agree with you, also keep in mind your book is about two girls who have a contest involving “20 boys” people are quick to judge.

  110. Go you!
    What is it about banned books that makes me want to read them?!
    I would never have heard of Speak if it weren’t for the issue.

    I loved it, by the way. So beautifully written. So bittersweet.

    Naturally, I’ve just ordered a copy of this. It must be good. Only really well written books have the power to move and influence people.

  111. I’ve just put a hold on your book in the library in Brisbane Australia. It’s funny how things don’t quite work out the way people hope huh? Talk about drawing attention to it!! And to be put in the same company as Kurt Vonnegut – well that’s the one good thing to come out of this silly exercise I suppose 🙂

    Whatever happened to free speech??? Next it will be Prohibition! Honestly talk about creating an instant generation gap. Since when was banning or blocking considered a good way to have a conversation – not a very good model I’m thinking. Sigh.

    Chin up and I hope your book sales go though the roof.

  112. OHH WOW. That is so stupid in my opinion. I mean its the truth about teens and it was an amazng book! Honestly, I think you should write more books. I seriously cant belive that! Well dont be discouraged. 🙂


  113. This is all so infuriating. I am in solidarity with you Sarah Ockler. This is sad to see something like this happening in a so-called “free” society.

  114. Beautifully said, Sarah! I’m a youth services librarian at the Miami-Dade Public Library System and if it makes you feel any better, there’s a wait list for our four copies of your book. I’ll be adding my name to it–the books sounds wonderful.

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  116. YEA! Now I can include Twenty Boy Summer in my Banned Books Display at the end of September. As a Christian pastor’s wife, I’m always saddened when my own brothers and sisters ban books in the name of Christian principles. I follow those principles also, diligently, and I also parent my children. I know what they read and discuss it with them- ALWAYS! At some point we have to allow people to make choices- good or bad.
    I always figure if a book’s been banned it’s worth looking at. I even read them and sometimes encourage my kids to do the same. Don’t tell, though:)

  117. “And you can ban my books from every damn district in the country — I’m still not going to write to send messages or make teens feel guilty because they’ve made choices that some people want to pretend don’t exist. ”

    Yes. This. Over and over and over again. We need so much more of this in the world. And for what it’s worth, even though I’m sure the school board’s opinion doesn’t mean that much, I think Twenty Boy Summer was indeed a very good book.

  118. Well that’s MO for you. Obviously none of us develope morals BEFORE we stick our face in a book or turn 12 or whatever and then BLAM! the first book we read decides what kind of morals we’re going to have for the rest of our lives. How effing stupid is that????
    Friend of mine down here assured me the best place to get your ashes hauled is at a revival meeting. Go figure.
    Wonder if Dr. Dickhead knows that?

  119. Sarah — you may have heard already that the Springfield-Greene County Library District, which serves the city of Republic and the Republic School District, received a Judith Krug Foundation Grant to celebrate Banned Books Week. Wahooo! The public library will support the citizens of the county to express their support for freedom to read!

  120. My god! They wanted to ban Speak? I think that book is a masterpiece and a must-read for all teenagers (and adults!). As for Vonnegut, I used to work for him and he was a wonderful man. And as for you, young missy, I had never heard of you or your work, but you can bet your bottom dollar I will be reading your book now. Don’t send me one of those free copies you mentioned. I want to spend money buying it to support you.

  121. My Literary Arts class recently had a big discussion on the banning of ‘depraved’ books, brought to light by our school board’s steps to remove Timothy Findley’s novel The Wars from our curriculum. In my opinion, it is these so-called depraved books that speak most of the inner workings of the human spirit, and should be recognized as such. Many of our languages classics have been banned at some point in some place. I find it insulting to have a school district, who should be working to expand the minds and worlds of youth through literature, are instead trying to suppress education by telling youth what they can and cannot read. Only the individual can properly determine what is suitable for them, and no other should be attempting to quell these decisions.

    For those who are looking for more censored works, be sure to see for a list of Canadian banned books of the past and present.

    Now, please excuse me, for I must go pick up a copy of Twenty Boy Summer.

  122. Sarah, your admirably calm and reasoned approach is wonderful, but I think the last thing the Banning Book Brigade want to hear is logic. I grew up with an English major mother, and so have been an avid reader since I learned to read. In high school my favorite authors varied from Vonnegut to Bukowski to Dorothy Parker to whatever the hell I picked up at the library. My mom actually bought me your book last summer – a few friends and I all read it and enjoyed it immensely. I’m nineteen now, and my opinion at least is that the approach to YA that you take is the best possible route. I’m sick of the “slut shaming” of girls or women who do not follow the conservative idea of sex and relationships. Depicting teenagers as sexual beings who drink and whatnot isn’t morally wrong, it is what happens, a lot, when you are growing up. To portray young women as chaste innocent angels sets an impossible standard, and not one you should aspire to anyway. I apologize if this is an incoherent mess! Cheers to you and Vonnegut. Thank you for standing up not only for yourself, but for all the readers that appreciate your writing.

  123. Shared!

    I’m proud to say my parents encouraged me to read, even the controversial books. They opened the door to interesting (and at times challenging) conversations with my parents. Not only did I learn more about the subject matter, but also about my parents as individuals.

    Thank you for posting the Canadian banned books list, Maddie. Here is the American Library Association’s site on banned books (complete with a frequently challenged books section and multiple sorting options):

  124. I think the idea of book banning is ridiculous, but as long as it’s only a handful of communities, I would argue that it is actually a net benefit to the greater national community to have a couple books banned from time to time. It serves as a (relatively) harmless reminder that we live in a country largely governed by its people which means apathy as a citizen is particularly dangerous. Book banning is just one of those issues that riles people up and I love that! As an added benefit, I would bet that sales of the banned books have jumped significantly and more teens are reading them than ever before.

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  126. I graduated from Republic High School last year. I originally had a huge, (in my opinion, fantastic) rant written, but I’ve decided that the details don’t matter. The bottom line is that this district is extremely corrupted, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The people of Republic are PISSED, but powerless.

  127. As a high school English teacher and a passionate advocate of censorship-free reading, thank you. It’s a wonderful thing to read an author defend her work, and the work of others, so vehemently. I wish we didn’t live in such an ignorant society.

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  130. Well, I do have at least one thing to thank pusillanimous Mr Minor for: without him, I might never have heard of Twenty Boy Summer, which I’ll request at my bookstore tomorrow.

    And my goodness, “Scroggins?” Could the man’s name be any more Dickensianly appropriate?

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  132. Hello all! My name is Marisa, and I am a senior at Republic High School. I just want to say that the majority of Republic doesn’t agree with the board’s decision; we’re not all close-minded idiots! Anyways, I just want to say thanks for the spirit of everyone, and to please never stop speaking out against censorship. Jeez, even the Guardian is talking about Republic….. it’s embarrassing! Thanks though, and if any good has come from this, it definitely makes people want to read these books. I’m trying to find to find it in our local library now, but it’s on holdshelf, and the other branches copies are all out right now 😦

  133. The decision to put selected titles in a school library is up to the school district. They use hardearned taxpayer money to pay for it, and these days, there is not much of it.
    So, upon learning about this ban, wouldn’t it have been better for you to have visited with the school board members to create a dialogue and arrive at a mutually beneficial solution?
    Maybe you did.
    If you didn’t, it is never too late. At least you can say you tried.

  134. “On rare occasion, we have situations where a piece of material is not what it appears to be on the surface and the material is totally inappropriate for a school library. In that case, yes, it is appropriate to remove materials. If it doesn’t fit your material selection policy, get it out of there.”

    “Marking 25 Years of Banned Books Week,” by Judith Krug, Curriculum Review, 46:1, Sep. 2006.

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  136. Nothing gets my juices flowing quite like a banned book. I am 1/2 way done with the book, I started it an hour ago. It is beautiful. I have one son named Matt, and another named Alex that is 17. This hit home for me, as a mother and as a prepetual teenage girl. Keep writing, so we can all keep reading.

  137. I bought and read Twenty Boy Summer because it was banned. It was a great read. A very touching story about dealing with relationships, about having to deal with life after a crisis.

    I wonder if those who ban actually read the books.

    I have read several young adult books, though I am not a young adult, anymore. Twenty Boy Summer is one of the most realistic, less violent and mystical. It deals with real issues, and not just with the teens, but with their parents, as well.

    Regarding remorse. True remorse is not always spoken. It is inside. What we think and feel when we are alone, after making decisions that we realize that we should not have.

  138. As a socially conservative parent who fervently hopes his children will not engage in this type of behavior before marriage, I am appalled at the notion of banning any book. Do these folks think that their kids aren’t aware that some of their classmates are having sex? I would welcome my children reading your books as a teaching moment, not for a lecture on “what bad kids do,” but for a discussion about actions, consequences, feelings, remorse, bad decisions, and all of those things that help my kids (and myself) make good choices because we understand WHY we choose.

    I haven’t read “Twenty Boy Summer” yet – I just read about the ban in the November 2011 issue of Reason magazine (p. 15). But I will have to read it now. It sounds like a great book to highlight just the kinds of moral lessons I want my kids to learn, so that they have the knowledge and strength to make their own choices.

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  140. I disagree with banning or censorsing books. My public library celebrates banned book week, there are printed lists of “banned” books and signs encouraging patrons to “Read a banned book!” My local library also has special library cards for children aged 6-12 that limit them to checking out only books in the children’s area, parents must check out books from the other areas. My high school library had and still has a no censorship policy. Growing up I was never told flat out that I couldn’t read a certain book. If my mom didn’t think I was ready to Read book she would suggest a different book, knowing that I would find a way to read the book if she told me no. I read adult books when I was 12, I was educated rather than traumatized by what I read, if I had questions or concerns about a book I knew I could go to my mom. Surprising really when you consider I was “over protected” growing up, just not when it came to reading. Keep up the great writing Sarah I have enjoyed reading all of your books. I can’t wait until the next one comes out.

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