Sunday, June 12, 2005


When A Book Gets a Bad Rap

I remember in high school, my teacher had us read, To Kill A Mockingbird. Each day our teacher went up and down the rows, paragraph by paragraph, day by day, with each student reading, OUT LOUD TO THE CLASS (remember those days?). I hated it! I absolutely hated reading aloud. Even remembering it today gives me the creeps. That's probably why I struggled doing live shots when I was a reporter.

But you could really have some serious anxiety wondering if it was going to be YOUR paragraph with the N word in it. I am sure the question in everyone's mind was, "How do you say the N word properly?" I mean really, what the heck was Harper Lee thinking about? Nevertheless, that was the year I accumulated the most absences too.

Fast forward now to today, A Town's Struggle in the Culture War. New York Times reporter Bruce Weber reported on how Adam Rapp's "The Buffalo Tree" is getting a bad rap (I know...cheesy but I couldn't resist).

Weber writes,"Then she began to recite from "The Buffalo Tree," a novel set in a juvenile detention center and narrated by a tough, 12-year-old boy incarcerated there. What she read was a scene set in a communal shower, where another adolescent boy is sexually aroused."

Come on! Maybe I am little too conservative, but reading even this paragraph alone made me uncomfortable; imagine a high school student? I know...they see more of this in the movies and on television. But I am going to say, "BRAVO" to those parents who stepped up to the plate and said NO to the Buffalo Tree in the school. Although in all honesty, while censorship scares the heck out of me, I still think we have to draw some limits on what students read "as a group" in school. We don't know what they're experiencing at home, which may make them uncomfortable with a class reading like this in school.

Also, since this is just my opinion, and I haven't read the book, I am probably no one to comment or judge. But, the blurb from Amazon was enough for me.

From Publishers Weekly
"A 12-year-old boy recounts his day-to-day battles in a juvenile detention center. "Graphic images and a narrative heavily seasoned with slang and expletives make Sura's hellish story all the more real and immediate."

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