Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books Week

I know everyone's posting lists of banned/challenged books and finding horrible stories about schools banning books and bookish things like To Kill a Mockingbird quote tee shirts. But I think I'm going to take a moment to appreciate one of my favorite YA authors (and one of the more fascinating men I've had the pleasure of meeting): Chris Crutcher.

I don't think there's a book of Crutcher's that hasn't been challenged. And because I seldom come across his books on other book blogs, I'd like to draw some more attention to them.

I was introduced to Chris Crutcher's books through my adolescent lit class when I was in college. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, the book we read, remains one of my favorite YA books. It was certainly the best book the class read. I sought out other books of his afterwards--Whale Talk. Chinese Handcuffs. The Sledding Hill.

And then, joy of joys, I learned that he was going to be talking and reading at Claire's Day 2006. And he was going to be at a local library two night before that. (I, of course, attended both.)

Chris Crutcher & me, Claire's Day 2006

Plenty of adults have a ton of problems with Crutcher's books. They are turned off by the language and frankness of his characters, but his characters are amongst the most real teen protagonists I've encountered. Crutcher's ability to write these kinds of characters stem from his work as a therapist for teens, who inspire his books. Others find his characters to be disrespectful of adult authority, but the adults in his books who earn respect get it. Many find his portrayal of religion to be appalling. Others (and some of the same) are disturbed by the discussions in his books of race, abortion, masturbation, body image, sex, abuse, etc. You know the rigmarole of challenging books. Crutcher doesn't shy away from writing about anything.

Chris Crutcher's website
is uniquely concerned with censorship. I love the page on which he answers challenges, be they book challenges in school districts across the US or messages from parents sent to his e-mail address. And in The Sledding Hill, one of his fictitious titles is being challenged by parents in the school system. (He even throws in a cameo appearance at the board meeting scene.)

If you haven't read one of his books, I'd suggest that this would be an especially good week to do so.

Crutcher signs my sister Katie's book at the Elmore Public Library, Elmore, Ohio.


bermudaonion said...

Great post for banned books week. I'm not familiar with Crutcher's work, so I'll have to check it out.

Lenore said...

I've been meaning to read Deadline forever. Thanks for the reminder!