The school board in Meridian, Idaho, voted 2-1 this week to keep
the book, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," off a
supplemental reading list for 10th-graders, meaning it will not be
part of the curriculum at the high school, said school board clerk
The 2007 Sherman Alexie novel, which won the 2007 National Book
Award for Young People's Literature, is still available in the
school's library, she said.
The school board's decision to seek an alternative book to convey
"the cultural messages" of Alexie's work came after complaints from
parents that the book contained sexually charged material
inappropriate for their children, was peppered with pejorative terms
for women, people of various races and those with learning
disabilities and mocked Christian beliefs.
The book is described by publisher Little, Brown as a
"heartbreaking, funny and beautifully written" tale about the
experiences of a young Native American who leaves his troubled
school on an Indian reservation in Washington state to attend an
all-white high school in a nearby farming community.
Bonnie Stiles, mother of four students in Meridian schools, said she
pushed for the removal from the high school curriculum after reading
the book and counting 133 profane or offensive words in its 230
"There's obscene material throughout, degrading slang words like the
one used to describe a certain part of a woman's anatomy and an
offensive depiction of (Jesus Christ)," she said.
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During a recent public meeting about the Alexie novel, Gretchen Caserotti,
director of public libraries in Meridian, spoke in favor of not
placing restrictions on that or other books.
"Teen fiction is often a reflection and extension of adolescents'
realities. We believe books are a powerful and safe place for kids
to see outside themselves and explore a world that is increasingly
diverse and complex," she said.
An ironic outcropping of the controversy is that the book is now in
high demand in local public libraries, said Caserotti.
The novel was ranked second on a list of 10 books that were most
frequently challenged or banned in 2012, according to the American
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers did not immediately respond to
a request for comment on Friday.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)
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