Although I read this book back in January, I never remembered to post a review. Maybe it’s because I typically read more books per month than I review and some titles just slip through the cracks… but I prefer to think my subconscious was just saving this review for Banned Books Week!
I think this book is a likely target for would-be censors for a couple of reasons. Not only are there the typical objectionable language and sexual situations that many people cite when challenging a book, but there is also the fact that the entire story revolves around Leonard Peacock’s plans to carry out a murder-suicide. I understand that some people worry about teens being impressionable and mimicking the behavior of a character in a book, but I take umbrage with that reasoning. After all, studies have shown that fiction can actually teach kids empathy.
While I agree, in theory, that it would be nice to be able to shield children from all of the terrible things that exist in our world, I recognize that it’s impossible. Instead, I feel that it’s important to be open and honest so that my kids and the kids/teens I work with at my library feel comfortable enough to come to me if and when they find themselves in a troubling situation. Rather than keeping this book out of the hands of teens for fear that a troubled teen who reads this book will decide to plan his/her own murder-suicide, I believe it is extremely important to make this book available. Why? Because I believe in the power of biliotherapy and think it is much more likely that teens who are struggling will learn from Leonard’s various mistakes, including his mistaken belief that he should end his life rather than seeking help. Readers who enjoyed 13 Reasons Why should definitely check this one out.
Happy Banned Books Week!