I read this book in observance of Banned Book Week. According to this list posted on the American Library Association’s web site, Looking for Alaska (the 2006 winner of the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature) is the #7 most challenged book of 2012 for having offensive language, being sexually explicit, and being inappropriate for the age group.
I. loved. this. book. I devoured it over the weekend (but am just now getting around to writing about it). It tells the story of Miles who goes to a boarding school his junior year. He makes fast friends with his roommate the Colonel and a girl named Alaska. When a tragedy hits the group of friends, the book explores dealing with loss, guilt, and finding a way to continue living on. It’s incredibly touching. The characters all deal with very deep issues related to dealing with tragedy and guilt that I find to be realistic and relatable. This is a hard book to write about without giving away any spoilers, so I’ll have to be vague and not go into any more detail.
It’s too bad so many people have tried to take this book off the shelves in schools and public libraries. This is a book that if my daughter came home with it, I’d be perfectly fine with it. I might even want to talk to her about the issues of loss and tragedy and see what she thinks about the way the characters deal and continue living. Sure there is explicit language and sexual situations and booze and cigarettes. The book takes place in a high school. The language is certainly nothing worse than I remember hearing in high school and neither is the talk of sex or the “sex scene.” I put quotes around that because, really, it’s not much of a scene at all. I wouldn’t be worried about this book corrupting my daughter. Hopefully I will have already talked with her about these kinds of issues and let her know where I stand and what I expect from her before she reads this book. Sure I wouldn’t be too happy if she came home with it at like age 10, but it’s a book meant for teens. This book is perfectly fine for teens. The way the book deals with loss and pain and life in general is so much more important than the language and underage drinking and should cloud all the other day-to-day scenes in the book.