Welcome to this month’s Banned Books feature where we discuss a book that has been challenged!
Why is the land so important to Cassie’s family? It takes the events of one turbulent year—the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she’s black—to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family’s lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride—no matter how others may degrade them, the Logans possess something no one can take away.
First published: 1976
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2002 (source)
Chosen by: Beth
Reasons: offensive language
Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?
BETH: Not at all. I think the offensive language they are referring to is the horrible “n” word, the derogatory term for black people which is used quite a few times in the novel. But perhaps back in the seventies, people would be more offended by it, I can’t really say. Saying that, I don’t think it should be a reason to ban/challenge this book as I think it’s a crucial book for looking at racism with children.
CHRISSI: Not really. I remember reading this book at school and I thought it was a challenging subject to talk about, but I certainly think that it’s a topic that needs to be discussed. I have to say, I think I got more from this book reading it much later on as an adult. It struck more of a chord with me, but I still think it’s a thoroughly important book to read with teenagers/young adults. It addresses so many important issues.
How about now?
BETH: As Chrissi mentions below, I believe that there is much more offensive language now then when the book was first published. I don’t know if I can say too much about how offensive it is, not being black myself – I’d love to hear some opinions from people who are and have read it. Were you offended? This book really affected me and broke my heart in some places and I can completely visualise it being taught in schools where it has the power to even curb some pre-racism behaviours? I know both my sister and brother, sister in law and boyfriend studied this book in school so perhaps times are changing? Saying that, as we mentioned above, it was still on the banned/challenged list as recently as 2002!
CHRISSI: I don’t think it is a highly banned as it used to be. Forgive/correct me if I’m wrong! The reasons for banning it were offensive language and I think there is much more bad/offensive language than there used to be! I think that this book shows racism so plain and simply that its incredibly educative and shouldn’t be kept away, just because it’s uncomfortable.
What did you think of this book?
BETH: Loved it, loved it, loved it! I had never read this book before, unlike Chrissi and as I mentioned in the previous question it did break my heart a little bit. I still can’t believe that the events of the past happened and that racism is still rife today. It makes me really sad to think about it. The ending of the book was particularly poignant as it left the reader almost on a cliffhanger – until I realised this book is part of a series. I’m definitely buying the next one! I loved the characters (especially Cassie), loved the setting… did I mention I loved it?
CHRISSI: I enjoyed revisiting it and as I said, I think I took more away from it reading it away from the classroom. I think it’s uncomfortable to read in parts, but I still think it’s an important read and would encourage deep conversations and stimulate important discussions!
Would you recommend it?
BETH: But of course!