This year's Banned Books Week, billed as "the national book community's annual celebration of the freedom to read," launched yesterday, kicking off a week of discussions and events in libraries, bookstores, bars and more across the country. BannedBooksWeek.org released a list of 2014's 10 most-challenged titles, and, as it turns out, PW gave most of them starred reviews. Here's a list of the eight banned books that PW reviewed, including the seven that received stars:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - Alexie's first YA novel, which received a starred review from PW, tells the story of a young Spokane Indian boy named Arnold who is desperate to escape his life on the reservation and the fallout of his success in doing so. The descriptions of Arnold's living conditions cause the book to be challenged for its depictions of drug and alcohol use, language and sexual situations. Read the review here.
PERSEPOLIS: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi - Satrapi's autobiography is the story of her young life growing up during the Islamic Revolution. The book, which received a starred review from PW, made the most-challenged list for its inclusion of gambling, strong language, and "political viewpoints." Read the review here.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, with illustrations by Henry Cole - Another PW starred review recipient, And Tango Makes Three tells the real-life-inspired story of two male penguins who built a life together, and eventually raised Tango, an orphaned baby penguin. Obviously, the book's supposed "promotion of the homosexual agenda" is why it made this year's list. Read the review here.
It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris and with illustrations by Michael Emberley - Harris and Emberly teamed up to create an accessible and valuable discussion on puberty and the sexual identity that's formed during this time of a person's life. The book, which received a starred review from PW, includes frank descriptions and images; those, along with the accusation of not being appropriate for the very age group it serves, landed it on this year's list. Read the review here.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona K Staples (who also the artist) - Saga is a character-driven graphic novel that tells the galaxy-spanning story of two parents protecting their child during a war. The emotional story and accompanying illustrations earned the book a starred review from PW. However, criticisms of the book being sexually explicit--including the opening birth scene--and full of offensive language helped earn its place on this year's list of challenged books. Read the review here.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - Hosseini's debut novel--which received a starred review from PW--tells the story of a man who left his home in Afghanistan for a better life in California, but carried with him a personal guilt that eventually brought him back to war-torn, Taliban-run Afghanistan. The accompanying violence and language are the reasons cited for its appearance on this year's banned books list. Read the review here.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - Wallflower is a story told in letters, recapping main character Charlie's reaction to his friend's suicide--a reaction that includes making new friends, doing drugs and a slew of other normal (sex, masturbation) and amplified (extra f-words) teenage behavior. Suicide, drugs, masturbation--need we say more? Banned! Read the review here.
Drama by Raina Telgemeier - Yet another PW starred review recipient, Drama is the story of a middle-school girl named Callie who is experiencing the ups and downs of crushes while dealing with the stress and drama of working on her school's staging of Les Miz. The supposed promiscuous and sexually explicit lives of middle-schoolers led to Drama's inclusion on the list. Read the review here.
Rounding out the top ten most-challenged books are The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, and A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Duggard.
Note: This article has been updated to mention every book on Banned Books Week's most-challenged list.