Banned Books #50- I Am Jazz

Welcome to this month’s Banned Books feature. This month we read I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings.

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I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings and Shelagh McNicholas (illustrator)
First published: 2014
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2015 (source)
Reasons: inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint and unsuited for age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: I Am Jazz is quite a new release compared to the books we often discuss, being first published in 2014 a mere four years ago as I write this post. Now I like to think we live in enlightened times and as a result, there will be far fewer recent releases that will be challenged/banned but unfortunately I Am Jazz seems to have the censors all fired up. The reasons as you can see above, make my blood boil. I can’t imagine what it’s like personally to go through the transgender experience but just because you don’t have much personal knowledge on it doesn’t mean you can’t educate yourself and that’s what I’ve been doing over the past few years whenever possible i.e. watching documentaries, reading memoirs, discussing the issue with open-minded friends. There ARE individuals out there who feel as if they have been born in the wrong body which quite frankly, must be terrifying and horribly confusing and to have this book challenged/banned is just fanning the flames and the self-righteous attitude of those other people who don’t believe that being transgender is “a thing.” This is particularly true when I consider the reasons – inaccurate and homosexuality. At what point does this book scream inaccurate can I just ask?! That’s a person’s LIFE you’re talking about there. Also, homosexuality which I’ve covered in other banned books posts, which makes me roll my eyes and get a bit cross is NEVER a reason to ban a book. Plus, I don’t believe there was even any mention of homosexuality in this picture book for children anyway. It’s about a little girl who was born in the body of a boy and who is telling us her story of how she longed to be a girl so much, including how there are some people that don’t really understand but how she has super duper supportive parents. Sacrilege! (*in my best sarcastic voice.*)

CHRISSI: The fact that this book is banned is absolutely ridiculous. It really is. I think the most offensive reason for me is inaccurate. INACCURATE? How on Earth can Jazz’s feelings be inaccurate. Only she knows how she feels! As for religious viewpoint? Well… I understand that some religions may not ‘believe’ in people being transgender, but guess what? Some people are. Even if you don’t agree with it, I strongly believe that we need to be more tolerant. There are some parts of other religions that I strongly disagree with, but I’d never slate them for it, because it’s THEIR belief and they’re entitled to it. Much like I Am Jazz deserves a place in the library, in schools and in homes.

How about now?

BETH: As the book was only published about four years ago, I’m sad to say I don’t think attitudes will have changed too much from those who wanted to challenge/ban this book but hopefully we can still encourage people in the community to talk and to better inform those of us who are interested and willing to listen, including myself. As for the final reasons, sex education, religious viewpoint and unsuited for age group – well, I’m sure you can imagine what I think of those! Firstly, this PICTURE book is written in such a way that makes it suitable for children of any age and it’s certainly very scant on details which make it “sex education” in my eyes. Where was the religious viewpoint? I must have missed that but even if there was, I’ve already gone into detail on other banned books posts about my views on religion and how I enjoy reading about other people’s viewpoints on this, even if they don’t match my own.

CHRISSI: Sadly, I think some people would still have an issue with this book which is worrying. It is certainly not a book offensive to the age in which it is intended for. It’s a picture book with a gentle story that definitely needs to be explored. As a teacher, I would certainly use this in the classroom. I know that there’s a girl that comes to mind that I taught in my first year of teaching that would have loved this book. I’m not saying she’s transgender, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she was in the future.  NOTE- This book has been challenged again in 2016… reasons:  because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints and 2017: This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.

Urgh. 😦

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: This was a very quick, sweet and hopeful read that I think will be very informative for curious children but especially transgender children who it might finally help to realise that they’re not completely alone. I was also thinking it might be a great tool to use for parents at home if children have a transgender member of their class at school to help them understand what their classmate might be going through and to hopefully, iron out those prejudices before they have a chance to develop.

CHRISSI: I thought it was an adorable read. I think it’s important that there are picture books out there aimed at this subject. It’s an educative tool to use in the classroom to help other children to understand. I think this book is needed and the fact that it is challenged upsets me.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

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I Was Born For This

I Was Born For This

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Solitaire
Radio Silence

Synopsis:

For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

Thoughts:

I went into this book with very high expectations after particularly enjoying Radio Silence by Alice Oseman previously.

I Was Born For This centres around Angel Rahimi who is a massive fan of the band The Ark. The Ark are three teenage guys who are exploding around the world. Angel is a super fan. She goes to London to meet someone named Juliet who she met online. Angel and Juliet have tickets for a meet and greet and the show. Angel is completely obsessed with the band. They are her reason for living. The meet up/gig doesn’t go as expected and Angel’s perception of the band is completely thrown up into the air.

The story is told through two narratives, Angel’s and Jimmy, a member of The Ark. Jimmy suffers with severe anxiety, having been thrust into the spotlight. He had been outed for being transgender. Although his fans had been incredibly supportive, it still added to his anxieties.

I really enjoyed the story because I’ve been a part of a few fandoms in my time (I sound like a Grandma!) and I could recognise a lot of the behaviours including ‘shipping’ of band members together. That’s such a thing and makes the story utterly relatable. I also really enjoyed how Alice Oseman represented the idea that we think we know someone but until we meet them in person and get to know them, we never truly ‘know’ them.

There are some fantastic characters within these pages. I loved Angel, Juliet, Bliss and the band members. I thought the portrayal of Jimmy’s mental health was incredibly realistic. Alice Oseman writes well from the perspective of a teenager.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

If you’ve ever been part of a fandom, you need to check out this book!

Clean

Clean

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter … it’s liquid gold.

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom.

She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all …

It’s a dirty business getting clean …

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Thoughts:

Hmm. I had heard mixed reviews before starting this book. I really thought it was going to be another 5 star read as so often Juno Dawson’s books are. However, it’s not a 5 star read for me. It’s a 3 star. Just. Before going into this book, please be aware that there are massive trigger warnings. It’s a book about addicts. There’s bound to be something that will trigger others. It totally doesn’t mean it should be avoided or not written about. I just think if you’re ultra sensitive maybe steer clear.

Clean begins with Lexi’s brother Nikolai taking her to an exclusive rehab centre. Nikolai had found his sister almost comatose after a drug binge. The rehab centre looks amazing, like a luxury holiday on an exclusive island. However, Lexi isn’t going to find the ‘break’ easy. No alcohol and definitely no drugs. Lexi has been taking the hard stuff. As a socialite she is able to fund the habit and her boyfriend’s habit too. Coming off the drugs is brutal. Juno Dawson doesn’t hold back as she documents Lexi’s road to recovery. As Lexi becomes clean she meets many peers all under the age of 25 whose issues include anorexia, overeating, sex addiction and substance abuse.

I think something that is important to mention is that Clean doesn’t glamorise drug use. It shows it to be an awful, ugly addiction which can change your mindset and seriously affect your health and your relationships. There are some incredibly mature themes so I definitely would say this book is towards the end age range of YA.

Part of this reason why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to, was that I found Lexi completely insufferable. I couldn’t relate to her whatsoever. Whilst I did feel some sympathy for what she had gone through, I didn’t really connect with her. I often just rolled my eyes when she said or did certain things. I also thought some of the language was unnecessary. I get it, in points, it’s needed but I personally thought that some of the language was banded about for the shock value.

P.S. That cover will never be ‘Clean’ from my fingerprints #bookwormstruggles

Would I recommend it?:
Yes- with caution.

Not what I expected, but definitely a raw and uncomfortable read!

Leah On The Offbeat (Creekwood #2)

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood, #2)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda
The Upside Of Unrequited

Synopsis:

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Thoughts:

I was so excited to read this book, especially after loving Simon so much. I did approach it with some trepidation though. As I often do when I hype books so much. Pffft, why do I do it? That said, this book was not a disappointment to me at all. I really enjoyed it and thought it was an awesome addition to Simon’s world. I had some moments when I actually laughed out loud. Although Simon features, this is definitely Leah’s story and I was totally okay with that.

Leah On The Offbeat explores Leah’s feelings towards one of her friends. Like Simon in the previous book, Leah hasn’t yet come out. She’s bisexual and doesn’t feel ready to tell this to the world. She’s not as brave as Simon was. The characters are now in their senior year of high school and thinking about moving on to college, making some important decisions for the future.

I loved Leah in her own story. I thought she was funny and completely true to herself. I loved her sarcasm and how she was quite moody. She was blunt about her own weight and discussed how many people equate skinny to pretty even if they don’t intend to.

Leah, Simon and their group of friends are so fun to follow. They are such an easy group of friends to root for. I love how Becky Albertalli’s books deal with real issues but essentially they are books that uplift you and give your some joy despite the doom and gloom that real life can bring sometimes.

You don’t need to have read Simon to read this book, but it’ll enhance your experience if you do!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Whereas it didn’t quite match my beloved Simon, it was still a decent read that I quickly devoured!

My Husband’s Lies

My Husband’s Lies

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Avon Books

Synopsis:

Do you really know your friends?

On the afternoon of Nick and Lisa’s wedding, their close friend is found poised on a hotel window ledge, ready to jump.

As the shock hits their friendship group, they soon realise that none of them are being as honest with themselves – or with each other – as they think.

And there are secrets lurking that could destroy everything.

Thoughts:

Hmm… this is going to be an interesting book to review, because I found myself struggling with it a little bit. I was immediately intrigued by the title, thinking it was going to be a gripping, twisting thriller. Unfortunately, that’s not what I got. I think I would have appreciated if this book had focused on one relationship. I think it would have been good to read about a wife with a husband that is hiding some pretty awful things. That was definitely what I thought I was going into. Let me explain more…

My Husband’s Lies is about a group of childhood friends and their relationships into adulthood. There were so many characters which was hard to keep track of, especially in the beginning. I feel like if there weren’t so many characters, I could have really enjoyed this book. However, I felt like it was too much, meaning that I didn’t feel their characters were as developed as they could have been. It did keep me reading though. I wouldn’t say that the writing itself was bad, I personally just think it suffered from too much going on.

The characters in this book weren’t immediately likeable. It don’t think it bodes well that I can’t recall many of the characters, a couple of days after finishing the book. I found the characters to be very shallow and out for themselves. They didn’t seem to care about their partners at all and that’s incredibly frustrating.

Would I recommend it?:
It’s not for me!- Unfortunately I didn’t get on with this book. I was expecting it to absolutely grip me, but it didn’t and I found myself getting frustrated by the characters.

You may enjoy this book, but it didn’t work for me!

They Both Die At The End

They Both Die at the End

How did I get it?:
It was a present from my sister Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
More Happy Than Not
History Is All You Left Me

Synopsis:

When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn’t know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalised father, and his best friend and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it’s his last chance to get out there and make an impression. 

Rufus is busy beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death-Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it’s time to run. 

Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that this would involve falling in love… 

Thoughts:

I have been slowly making my way through Adam Silvera’s books. I absolutely lapped up his second book History Is All You Left Me so I was super excited to get a copy of this book at Christmas time. I decided I needed to read it ASAP so it leapt its way over books on my TBR list. I’m glad I made time for this book because although it broke my heart, I thought it was a pretty incredible read.

They Both Die At The End is about two guys that receive a call telling them that they’re going to die that day. Can you even imagine that happening? The thought terrifies me. Mateo is a quiet boy who spends a lot of time inside. His father is currently in a coma. He doesn’t want to leave his father, his friend and his goddaughter.  Then there’s Rufus, who has lost his entire family and his girlfriend. As he was beating up his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend he got the call… Mateo and Rufus end up finding each other through an app and start to live their last day to the full. They never expected to fall for each other though…

I can see that there are problematic things about this book, if you really stop to analyse it, but I absolutely was heartbroken and moved by this story which is why I still rated it 5 stars. One of the problems that I’m just thinking about now is why people got calls about their death. How did people know? It confuses me, but I’m letting that one go because the rest of the book is just awesome.

Although this is sad, moving read there’s definitely so much happiness within its pages which made me very happy. The love between Mateo and his best friend was heart warming. I also loved Rufus and his gang. Friendships are so important and this book had them in abundance. I knew there was going to be a sad ending, the title gives that away. When I got close to the ending, I really, really didn’t want to know what was going to happen to them both. In fact, I tweeted:

I think the characters are what made this book for me. They were so well crafted. Both Mateo and Rufus were incredibly moving characters. I loved them both for different reasons. I adored how Mateo was so cautious and I loved how Rufus could bring him out of his shell, but still let Mateo be Mateo. They’re definitely characters that I wanted to be together. ❤ They were just the sweetest. I loved how it didn’t feel like an instalove situation. I guess it is, if you take it in the scale of one day, but it wasn’t love at first sight. It developed over hours of getting to know each other. It was believable and oh so raw.

There’s something so special about Adam Silvera’s writing. His characters are complex and his story lines are completely captivating. I have to come expect a wonderful read when I pick up an Adam Silvera book and I’m yet to be proved wrong.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

I absolutely adored this diverse, heart breaking read. Be prepared to feel all of the emotions!

Flying Tips For Flightless Birds

Flying Tips for Flightless Birds

How did I get it?:
Received from Walker Books for review

Synopsis:

Twins Finch and Birdie Franconi are stars of the flying trapeze. But when Birdie suffers a terrifying accident, Finch must team up with the geeky new kid, Hector Hazzard, to form an all-boys double act and save the family circus school. Together they learn to walk the high-wire of teen life and juggle the demands of friends, family, first love and facing up to who they are – all served up with a dash of circus-showbiz magic.

Thoughts:

I was immediately intrigued by this book when I read about it in an email. The title interested me and I’m all for reading about circuses at the moment. A massive thank you to Walker for sending me a copy of this book. I’m always excited when I hear that a book is a debut. I’m always on the search for fabulous new writing talent. I am happy to say I’d easily read another book by Kelly McCaughrain, I was really impressed with her debut!

It centres around twins Finch and Birdie. They are the stars of the flying trapeze in their family circus. Finch and Birdie are treated horribly at school because they are outsiders, they dress outlandishly and express themselves through their outfits! Lots of people at school pick on them because they’re different. Birdie has a terrifying accident, leaving her out of action for the family circus school. Finch has to work with Hector, a new geeky kid at school. He’s a little bit hopeless at all things circus, but Finch perseveres with him. Finch and Hector grow closer as they learn to deal with friends, family and school pressures. They learn about who they really are.

I thought this was such a cute book! I have to admit that it took me a few chapters to get into it, but when I was, I was completely captivated. I found it incredibly easy to read. I loved how there were many positive messages that could be taken from the story. Finch, Birdie and Hector are such fantastic characters. I especially grew to love Finch and Hector. I loved how their friendship developed over the course of the story. I was championing Hector from the very beginning too. Such an adorable character.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. My heart grew to love these truly special characters.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic debut with some amazing characters that became very dear to me!