Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jodi Picoult: Banned Author

Once more, I write to focus on the collective work of a certain author; in this case, one of a very different mold (or maybe not) than Pat Conroy, and certainly one of a different mold than George Orwell. Jodi Picoult seemingly writes for a specific audience- women, mostly- yet her books tackle tough subjects, and ones that anyone- male, female, young, old, etc.- can relate to or be touched by.

The term "tough subjects" is no overstatement; Picoult's books deal with topics such as suicide, teen pregnancy, depression, violence in schools and a child's right to her own body. Because of this, they have been censored in various school districts. Parents have even confronted Picoult publicly on their opinion of her writing being "smut" and "trash." Also, Picoult's hometown of Hanover, N.H. has pulled her books, The Pact and Nineteen Minutes; the latter censoring came on the grounds that the layout of the school in her novel (about a mass murder by a student at his high school) too closely resembles that of Hanover's high school. Nineteen was also restricted in a high school in Beardstown, IL, with the students having to obtain parental consent, due to "foul language" and "sexual content." (Not to the subject matter, however.) Another book of hers, My Sister's Keeper, was one of 2009's most challenged books due to sexism (?), homosexuality (??), offensive language, sexual content, religious viewpoints (figure that one out too), drugs, violence and suicide.

Despite all of this, her books are a success with readers, largely because they explore the mindset of teens; how they feel, think, act. Many young adults feel the emotions she displays ring true, as do I. While some of her writing is a bit trite, I do think she effectively portrays many of the struggles of being a teenager in American society, and the pressures, struggles, and confusions that ensue. That, and not the bans, is the important thing. As stated in so many of my posts, all of the things she writes about are present in America. No amount of censoring changes it; the best parents can do is educate their children on what's out there and how to deal with it.

You can read an article Picoult wrote about censorship and her role in it here.

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