FICTION

Suggested Reading

Katherine Tegen Bks/HarperCollins/. Sept. 2019. 400p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062685254.
COPY ISBN
Gr 8 Up–When private school senior and self-proclaimed book nerd Clara Evans discovers her principal’s list of “contraband media,” she rebels by peddling explicit materials from her school locker. Except the contraband she’s putting into students’ hands are books—The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Eleanor & Park, Speak, The Chocolate War, and a host of other copies removed from the school library. Soon she’s circulating dozens of banned titles at lunch, between classes, and after school, even though the new school policy promises harsh punishment for students caught with the prohibited books. While Clara has always found reading to be a transformative experience, now her love of books has become revolutionary. Her smart, funny voice and rebellious streak alternate with moments of doubt as she finds herself at times in over her head. And when one of her most beloved books is connected to a tragedy involving another student, it causes her to question everything. If stories are powerful, is she now responsible? One of the many highlights of this book is the way in which the different characters respond to censorship and the cost of rebellion. As her initial feelings of righteous indignation are challenged by the complexity of the lived experiences of others, Clara and readers start to understand that protest takes many forms, especially when the stakes are high.
VERDICT  Wry, thought-provoking, rebellious, and predicated on the belief that the right book changes everything. This book is a school librarians’ dream, and the well-told story of a frustrated teen fighting for social justice will be a hit with young people, too

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