Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Celebrate the Freedom to Read with S.D. Wasley #BannedBooksWeek

September 27 - October 3

It's BANNED BOOKS WEEK and we're recognizing this important eek with BANNED BOOK features from our authors. 

Please welcome S.D. Wasley, author of Evernight Teen's The Seventh!

Real Life – Unbanned

Banned Books Week Blogpost by S.D. Wasley

I have a confession to make.

I’m Australian. That means there’s not much book banning that goes on in my world. I actually had to do some research to find out what books get banned in Australia, and it looks like only the most twisted of pornographic books, or books inciting violence or giving instructions on things like suicide and murder, are banned in this country.

But I was seriously stunned to see some of the books that have been banned in other countries in recent years. I mean, The Lovely Bones? Why?

I had to do some research to answer that question. I found a blog about books that were banned in Australia from the previous century (the 1900s) and saw titles like Nabakov’s Lolita. Okay, let’s look at that book in context. Lolita was about a ‘love affair’ (a 1964 journalist’s words) between a middle aged man and a 14 year old girl. It kind of makes sense that it got banned, because the book deals with a topic that was not only illegal and taboo, but also not discussed in everyday life.

At the same time that Lolita was publicly exploring the topic of paedophilia, there was a girl living across the street from my mum who was regularly raped by her father. He even complained to his neighbours that she was pregnant ‘again,’ unaware they all knew what was going on. Did the banning of Lolita prevent her, and many others, from being sexually abused by pedophiles? Not at all. In fact, the conditions in which that book was banned probably contributed to the culture of silence and suppression that caused her to suffer. No one knew how to talk about the problem.

Let’s look at The Lovely Bones. How could it be banned in this modern era? Aren’t we more able to talk about these painful topics these days? The book may be about paedophilia, rape and murder, but it’s not celebrating paedophilia, rape or murder. And yet, the theme that got it banned from some US high schools in 2002 was the same theme that got Lolita banned in Australia in 1959.

So, how does this happen? Did it turn out that Lolita DID cause a sudden increase in paedophilia that made censors rush to ban The Lovely Bones in case it happened again? No, of course not. In fact, our culture has changed. We are more able to talk about child sexual abuse these days. We educate our children on how to protect themselves from it, and (as adults) we are more vigilant and willing to speak up if we see something suspicious. And yet, some parents at the high schools where it got banned thought it was best not to let their kids read The Lovely Bones.

Books don’t always deal with comfortable, safe topics. That’s because one of the jobs of fiction is to reflect on and question the society’s morals or laws ... to imagine what might happen if a particular thing happened, or a particular law changed, or if a certain truth was told. Through fiction, we speculate on a better world, or sometimes a worse one, or on different ways to be human. Fiction is a way of testing change and seeing what can be applied to real life.

This is why banning books is ultimately not useful. It is each individual, and then cumulatively a society, that must decide what it does with the speculation in any book. Not the censors, or the parents, or the churches. As humans, we don’t always make the right decisions, but I think you’d be hard pressed to identify which novels to blame for our human flaws and mistakes.

Sources used in this post:

About the author:
S.D. Wasley was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia.
She has been composing literary works since before she could write – at five years of age she announced her first poem in the kitchen, improv-style. Today, she lives in the Swan Valley wine region with her two daughters, surrounded by dogs, cats and chickens.

The Seventh is S.D. Wasley’s debut novel.

by S.D. Wasley

Sixteen year old Mimi Alston has company. No less than three ghosts follow her around, and only she can see them. At her last school, she was known as the girl with imaginary friends. Now Mimi’s starting fresh in a new town, where she’s determined to make some real friends and fit in for once. She’s ready for a normal life...except Mimi never counted on her fascination with troubled goth-boy, Drew. 

When she’s invited to join the elite Gifted Program, Mimi discovers she’s not the only one at the school with an unusual talent. Maybe being normal isn’t even an option anymore.

THE SEVENTH is available here:

1 comment:

Cheryl Johnson said...

The Seventh looks a pretty good read.