Wo sie Bücher verbrennen, verbrennen sie letztlich auch Menschen. (Brian Katcher)
My google alerts have really been blowing up the past couple of months. My second book, Almost Perfect, has been challenged in five states. But let's be honest, it's mostly Florida. Citizen committees have taken it upon themselves to challenge dozens of books in school libraries. Along with mine, they're wanting to pull books by Toni Morrison, David Levithan, Maia Kobabe, and other luminaries. And I can't help but ask...why my book?
In case you haven't read it, Almost Perfect is a 2009 book about a heterosexual boy who falls for the new girl in his school, only to discover that she is transgender. It won the 2011 Stonewall Book Award, the first in the children's/YA literature category.
But this book is old. There have been much more recent, much more graphic, and much better books about transgender people out there. And, despite the title, the book isn't perfect. There's a lot I'd change. So why is it in the censors' crosshairs?
I think it comes down to the fact that people who want to ban books, never actually get around to reading them. I'm guessing they just google 'LGBTQ YA books' and because my book is older, it shows up more often. And out with the torches.
I was recently on a panel about book banning with Maia Kobabe, author of Gender Queer, the most challenged book of recent time. And it got me thinking. What would I do, as a librarian, if the censors came to my library?
I mean, granted, I'm a K-2 librarian, so everything in my collection is pretty vanilla. But what if I worked in a middle or high school? What if the school board ordered me to purge the collection? Would I do it?
It's easy to say I'd gladly fight for intellectual freedom, even at the expense of my job. But...would I? Getting fired as a teacher pretty much guarantees you'll never be rehired anywhere else. I'd lose my pension, my medical insurance, and more than half our household income. It would be easy just to say that my hands are tied, and the books would come off the shelf anyway, whether my own hand or someone else's.
But that's how the culture wars are lost. In the end, I don't know how brave I'd actually be.
Also, a big thanks to the Florida Tea Party, whose hatred of my book has really jacked up sales. Let me know if you'd like me to do come to one of your book burnings. I can get you copies at bulk rate.