Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Belated Banned Book Week: Book Review #1

I finally got around to reading one of the books from the Banned Books Week list of the top challenged books of 2022.  This one was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews.

I just have to say... who challenges a book about a girl dying of leukemia?  Who does that?

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was technically challenged for profanity and because it's supposedly "sexually explicit."  Okay, so let's unpack that for a moment.

The book is written in what seems to me to be a pretty authentic voice of an awkward 17-year-old boy (at least, from my experience with awkward 17-year-old boys).  What that means is that they drop some F-bombs, and that there are a few crude mentions of boobs and teenage hormones.

Oh the horror.  Please let us not let our kids read about teen boys having hormones.  Or thinking about boobs.  Oh noes.

So, yeah.  The narrator describes his epic fail where he complimented a girl's boobs in school.  And he mentions having boobs on his computer screen.  And mentions a boner once or twice.  And a few more mentions of boobs.

But honestly.  Does anyone actually think that banning this book will stop teenage boys from thinking about boobs or getting boners?  Or do they just not want kids to know that it's normal?  (Probably the latter.)

And profanity?  Ha.  I promise you, your kid hears more F-bombs on a daily basis than they'll read in this book.

And honestly, those are just part of the authenticity of the voice.  At its heart, the book is the story of a kid whose friend is dying of leukemia.  He learns some real lessons about friendship and life along the way, and for many kids reading this book, the F-bombs and boobs are just a small part of an accessible voice, introducing them to some very real, adult concepts about reality.

I loved this book. It was funny, and raw, and all too familiar (from the point of view of someone who was once a 17-year-old girl, but who definitely had my own share of supremely awkward high school moments).

So today, do your part to piss off a conservative, and go buy this book.  Bonus points if you buy it for your kids, and you can even level up by buying it for your high school!  If you're buying it for yourself, it's also currently $2.24 on Kindle, so you can piss off a conservative for about the price of a king-sized candy bar.

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