Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Nineteen Minutes to a Book Banning

Not often do I give a book or movie review, but the novel Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult became news when Becky Ortin complained to the teacher this book had been assigned to her 15-year-old daughter. The teacher quickly assigned an alternative. All was well until a few days later when William Baer blasted the school board for giving pornography to students – including his 14 year daughter.

Becky Ortin said she had read several of Picoult's books and thought them not age appropriate for her daughter. I can understand her feelings. It's only when that book is asked to be banned from school you must first read that particular book. In the beginning I was standing behind the father of a 14 year old girl, William Baer, but once I researched the facts I found him to be completely wrong. The father was escorted out by an officer after he refused to follow the 2 minute speaking rule at a school board meeting. Most news outlets are not labeling this event as a book banning. They seem to be making it about Common Core standards forcing students to read pornography.

Since the book is the basis for the above mentioned incident, let's discuss that for a moment. I received this book for Christmas and was dubious because I wasn't very familiar with the author. It turned out to be one of the most compelling books I've ever read. The book is about a nerd-ish boy who is bullied, while his beautiful childhood friend became popular. She often had to make the choice of being a friend with the bullied boy, or hanging with the popular crowd. She often made the wrong choice. As time goes on he can take no more, walks into the school, and begins shooting those who had made his life unbearable. The total time of the spree was Nineteen Minutes, a period that change many people's lives forever. I'll stop there because it would be a literary crime for me to give away the ending.

Yes, the book contains rape. Rape is a topic every teen should fully understand. I think Jodi did a good job of portraying the incident and showing how confused the victim was at the time. The author wasn't describing the incident with sexual intent, but a view of an event that played an important part in the shooting. With so many school shootings, Jodi somehow gave an insight into the mind of one of those shooters, and his only friend.

This is to parents out there who might someday protest a book their child might read – first read the book yourself. Don't pick out a page with sex or violence to judge the entire book. Some have labeled Nineteen Minutes as pornographic. I can assure you that book is anything but porn. It is an insight into the mind of teenagers and how the world around them can influence their actions – even actions that lead them to do incredibly horrible things. This book shows how even the love of one person cannot repair all the damaged done by society, but it can make a difference.

We all know too well the phrase “don't judge a book by its cover.” Sometimes we must take those sayings literally. Every day I watch media personalities judged by people who never watch or listen. I see books banned from libraries by people who never read them. When we let perception guide our minds we will never get past that barrier to the truth.

I can't imagine how many times in recent years that I've been judged because of my association with the Tea Party Movement – or because of my rural southern drawl. If that person takes the time to talk with me they usually end up not agreeing with everything I say, but at least seeing me as an individual with my own fact based views. All groups have those who follow the collective thinking. I dare say all groups have individual thinkers like myself.

We have all had our Nineteen Minutes where we feel life has forced us into a corner. What happens in those Nineteen Minutes isn't as important as what led us to that moment. It is for this reason I recommend this book. I'll bet after reading the book many will personally give your teen a copy.

Don't be the person who judges a book by its cover. If the father who protested had first read the book this incident might have never happened. In any case, the school acted appropriately. Some are making this an argument about Common Core standards, but until more facts come forth to prove me wrong – it's not, but a story about book banning. This is a case of book banning, something most people are against. Too many are taking sides in something they obviously haven't researched.

No comments:

Post a Comment