Author: Alan Gratz
I was fortunate enough to pick this up in the Express shelves of my local library and sat down for an afternoon to read it.
The heart of this book is about a fourth grader, Amy, who spends a lot of time in her head, but doesn’t actually speak up. Although the divide in age between myself and this protagonist is quite the span, I found I could relate to her right away.
It chronicles the events of her school when her favourite book gets banned from the library. Soon thereafter, a list of books are removed at the bequest of an influential parent council member who deems them inappropriate for a young audience.
As a response, Amy and her friends create a forbidden book library that is run out of her locker.
Thus, we get to the over-arching theme of this book, which is censorship.
We’re asked questions about who gets to decide what is right for children to read and how much autonomy we should give in decision making. I was very satisfied with the author’s answer at the end (thank you Mr. Gratz for giving one!), but it opens the discussion wide open for all readers.
What I found most dumbfounding was the author’s note at the end where he tells the reader every book on Amy’s list was banned, or under review for removal, from school libraries.
It made me appreciate this book all the more.
The writing is wonderful and the characters feel alive. This is a book that belongs in the hands of every young reader and every library.