Looking for Alaska is another Banned Book that people have decried for having foul language, sex, alcohol, and drug use. These are often common complaints from parents and, in this case, it was reported that one person who complained counted the number of swear words used. This does make me wonder, if there an appropriate amount of swear words or is there a tipping point? Nevertheless, I am, as you may have gathered from previous banned book reviews, strongly against censoring novels when they tell the truth.
This book takes place in a boarding school and follows Miles Halter and Alaska Young, their budding friendship/relationship, and their life with their friends at Culver Creek Preparatory High School. While there, they work through struggles and questions about the meanings of famous last words from historical figures. There is a tragic event that transpires, there is a lot of self-discovery, and this is a coming-of-age novel that tackles some very tough questions.
While, I do understand people wanting to keep certain things away from their children, this again is another opportunity for someone who may worry about young readers being exposed to this type of story to read it and discuss it with young readers. Rather than counting the number of “bad words” or being unable to see past underage drinking or sex, both of which do happen in the real world, why not work to understand these characters and start a conversation?
I really enjoy books like this, especially where a young character is traveling through the difficult forest of high school or college, and it’s at a time where a lot of questions and changes begin to happen. Parents or school administrators or whomever might want to rail against such novels might try looking past these “offensive” acts, show some compassion to the characters doing these things they find so terrible they feel the need to have them banned, and maybe look at the why of these character’s actions rather than look for reasons to fight against them.