Before it was a box office hit, The Fault in Our Stars was a hugely popular book – especially amongst teenagers. This is quite an accomplishment nowadays as with options like Netflix, PS3, smartphones, etc. To have teenagers enjoying an actual book is a rare achievement.
Which is why is it quite a surprise that Monday, Riverside Unified School District’s book reconsideration committee voted to ban the book from its middle schools – and all because of one complaining parent.
John Green’s 2012 novel was banned by a vote of 6 to 1 from library shelves at Frank Augustus Miller Middle School and other schools in the district will not be allowed to buy or accept the book as a donation (the book will be allowed at high school libraries).
Complaining parent Karen Krueger made her case before the committee before the vote saying that she does not want to “come off as a prude” (ummmmm….too late) or block anyone’s freedom to read (but you are Karen, you are). She questioned whether the book should at a middle school’s library because the subject matter involves teens dying of cancer who use crude language and have sex. And God forbid anyone who is about to enter puberty have some sort of understanding of life, language, and sex!!!!
This all came about after students went to the library and requested the New York Times best seller near the end of the last school year, shortly before the movie was released in theaters (PG-13 by the way).
The book’s arrival was such a big deal, they announced it over the PA system and the book virtually passed from kid to kid, said Krueger, who has a twin girl and boy now in eighth grade. When her daughter brought the book home, Krueger complained to the principal. I mean sure, she could have just told her daughter not to read it and left the decision about the book to other parents, but Krueger decided she should make the decision for everyone else’s kids too. Why be just your kid’s parent – when you can be every child’s parent?
Only 1 other book has been banned by the Riverside Unified School District: Robert Cormier’s 1974 novel The Chocolate War, which was banned in 1996. That book includes scenes of masturbation, sexual comments, profanity, and violence – oh yeah it also won a ton of awards like ALA Best Book for Young Adults, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Kirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice, and New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year.
But don’t worry Riverside parents, your kids won’t be reading any of that. They will probably just be watching TV shows which make pregnant 16-year-olds famous and playing Grand Theft Auto. And should any other book get young people excited about reading, just know that parents like Karen Krueger will be out to ban that one too.