Banned Books #58- We All Fall Down

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Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier.

We All Fall Down

We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
First published: 1991
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2003 (source)
Reasons: offensive language, sexual content.

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

BETH: I never usually understand any reason for a book being challenged/banned, no matter what year it was raised in. I can think of occasional books where access should perhaps be restricted in a school library setting for very young children but generally, I think people should be free to read whatever they like, particularly if there’s not a solid reason for the challenging or banning. This book was published in the early nineties and although it’s slightly dated, I feel that it could still be read right now without any difficulty. As always, I get a bit dumbfounded about the issues that were raised. I think this is meant to be a work of young adult fiction, so for the age group it’s aimed at, I do think there shouldn’t be too many problems. I don’t think there’s too many incidences of offensive language – certainly nothing I found offensive anyway but I do appreciate that people are different and may be more sensitive to those aspects.

CHRISSI: I didn’t think the language in this book was overly offensive. When it’s aimed at young adults, we really need to stop thinking that they can’t handle offensive language. I’m pretty sure most young adults use offensive language. It’s everywhere! Film, TV, books, family members and peers… why should we challenge a book due to offensive language? I do think there are some moments in the book that is quite heavy going, so I think if this book was in a school library, it should have an age range on it. It’s really down to individual discretion, I think and guidance from teachers/librarians if it’s in a school.

How about now?

BETH: The fact that this book was still on the list for 2003 blows my mind a little bit. There is a bit of sexual content (although it isn’t graphic) but could still upset readers so they should perhaps be aware of that. I find it very strange though that I always try and guess the reasons for challenging a book and more often than not, I’m usually wrong. I anticipated that people would have problems with the level of violence that is used in this novel and that isn’t mentioned at all. However, I do stand by what I said in my previous answer – it’s meant to be young adult fiction and I think it is probably okay to be read by that particular age group.

CHRISSI: I have definitely read more explicit books in the YA genre than this. Like Beth, I thought the violence would be a bit of an issue, but it’s not mentioned in the reasons for challenging this book. I don’t see why it was challenged in 2003. There’s definitely more to be worried about than a book like this. As I mentioned in my previous answer, it should be restricted access to the YA age range.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: This book left me a bit surprised, to be honest. It’s only 200 pages so didn’t take me that long to read and I fairly flew through it as it was quite action-packed. I was intrigued by the story-line, the devastation that a family go through after their property is violated, leaving one of their daughters in hospital. I was also curious about the part of the plot that involved The Avenger and how that ended up being resolved, which was very much “heart in the mouth,” kind of stuff. I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did!

CHRISSI: I flew through this book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It does seem a little bit dated having being published in the 90s, but it was still highly enjoyable and so easy to read. There was a great amount of intrigue that kept me turning the pages!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Looking Ahead- This Month’s TBR (April 2019)

Welcome to my Looking Ahead post for April. In March, I managed to read all of the books on my TBR post.

Here are this month’s books! Thanks to Tina over at Reading Between The Pages for hosting! As ever, click on the book image, if you want to add it to your Goodreads TBR!

Nine Perfect Strangers

Goodreads Synopsis:

One house. Nine strangers. Ten days that will change everything . . .

The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation.

Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.

Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.

Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined.

For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda.

These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them . . .

This is one that Beth and I will be ‘Talking About’. I enjoy Liane Moriarty’s writing, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into this one.

Now You See Her

Goodreads Synopsis:

Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.

Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable: tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.

Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again.
Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.

Another one that’ll be reviewed with the Talking About feature. I’m excited because I bought this book months ago. I don’t think I would’ve had it to read soon without it being picked for the feature.

We All Fall Down

Goodreads Synopsis:

Jane Jerome’s house is trashed one evening while her family is out. The culprits are four middle-class kids from the next town–not a gang or hoods–out for action. The Avenger has seen it all and is determined to exact revenge. A superb thriller which explores the effects of random violence on a family and on one of the violators.

This is April’s Banned Book. I can’t wait to see what it’s like. I think the mention of violence could be why this book is challenged!

Demon Dentist

Goodreads Synopsis:

Darkness had come to the town. Strange things were happening in the dead of night. Children would put a tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy, but in the morning they would wake up to find… a dead slug; a live spider; hundreds of earwigs creeping and crawling beneath their pillow.

Evil was at work. But who or what was behind it…?

I’m really looking forward to going back to reading some David Walliams. He is a terrific children’s author. We will be reading this as part of the kid-lit feature that Beth and I do every month.

What are you hoping to read this month? Let me know!

Banned Books 2019…REVEALED

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Here are 2019’s books that Beth and I will be reading for our Banned Books feature that has been running since July 2014!

JANUARY: Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread Chuck Palahniuk
FEBRUARY: Northern Lights/The Golden Compass Philip Pullman
MARCH: Uncle Bobby’s WeddingSarah S. Brannen
APRIL: We All Fall Down- Robert Cormier
MAY: Crazy LadyJane Leslie Conley
JUNE: Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun CultureMichael A. Bellesiles
JULY: In The Night Kitchen- Maurice Sendak
AUGUST: Whale TalkChris Crutcher
SEPTEMBER: The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins
OCTOBER: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain
NOVEMBER: To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee
DECEMBER: Revolutionary Voices- edited by Amy Sonnie

I am looking forward to reading these books and exploring/discussing the reasons why they’re challenged! Here’s to another year of Banned Books!

Banned Books #10 The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

banned books

Welcome to this month’s Banned Books feature. This month Beth and I have read The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.

The Chocolate War (Chocolate War, #1)


Jerry Renault ponders the question on the poster in his locker: Do I dare disturb the universe? Refusing to sell chocolates in the annual Trinity school fund-raiser may not seem like a radical thing to do. But when Jerry challenges a secret school society called The Vigils, his defiant act turns into an all-out war. Now the only question is: Who will survive? First published in 1974, Robert Cormier’s groundbreaking novel, an unflinching portrait of corruption and cruelty, has become a modern classic.

First published: 1974
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2009 (source)
Chosen by: Beth
Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.

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

BETH: Hmmm, this is a difficult one. Perhaps because it was a bit controversial for the 1970’s yes. I thought it was a very interesting book and sent a brave message out there but I just can’t imagine it being taught in classrooms especially back then. I certainly can’t picture a teacher reading out certain parts of the book:
“Then she brushed past him again – that was the night he’d bought her the earrings – and he knew it wasn’t an accident. He’d felt himself hardening and was suddenly ashamed and embarrassed and deliriously happy all at the same time.”
See what I mean?

CHRISSI: I can see why it was banned, merely because of the language/nature of the book. It’s quite blunt in places, but to be honest, this book doesn’t expose teenagers/young adults to anything that they haven’t heard before. Like many of the books we’ve read for this feature, it would take a brave teacher to read this with a class. I can just hear some of the sniggering that would go on. I can certainly recognise that some parents and school boards would be very uncomfortable with their teens reading this. Are we underestimating the maturity of teens? Perhaps.

How about now?

BETH: I agree with Chrissi that this book doesn’t expose kids to anything they haven’t heard previously in their daily lives. What I think it does do is introduce a new way of thinking about the world that perhaps they haven’t realised before. As I said in the last question, I can’t imagine it being taught in classrooms (if it is, great!) but it’s a fantastic book that teachers can recommend to teenagers to seek out and read in their own time and perhaps discuss their thoughts and opinions with other students at a later date.

CHRISSI: I don’t think this book exposes anything new to young adults so I don’t see why it continues to be banned. Most teenagers I know would feel more compelled to read this knowing that its banned. Making a big deal out of books like this actually is ironic, because teenagers end up wanting to read it even more…If it was dealt with in the classroom then perhaps the issues included could be addressed in a more mature manner. It would certainly encourage some interesting conversations/debates. Would a teacher take it on? I’m not so sure.

What did you think of this book?

BETH: This book was really interesting. In the Introduction the author says that the book was initially rejected by seven major publishers. Why? It was thought “too complicated for teenagers. Far too many characters and a downbeat ending which teenagers of the 1970’s would find difficult to accept.” My first thoughts on reading this is that they seem to be both predicting what teenagers would think and under-estimating them without even giving them a chance! Some parts of the book were quite dark it’s true and although it is a harsh reality to face that life sometimes isn’t fair, at least the book is honest and I think most teenagers would appreciate that.

CHRISSI: I thought that it was a well written and interesting book. It’s incredibly dark in places. It’s not a book that I would necessarily revisit, but I thought it was interesting enough and thought provoking!

Would you recommend it?

BETH: Probably!