The Year They Burned the Books
by Nancy Garden
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
No. of Pages: 256
No. In Series:
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When Wilson High ‘Telegraph’ editor Jamie Crawford writes an opinion piece in support of the new sex-ed curriculum, which includes making condoms available to high school students, she has no idea that a huge controversy is brewing. Lisa Buel, a school board member, is trying to get rid of the health program, which she considers morally flawed, from its textbooks to its recommendations for outside reading. The newspaper staff find themselves in the center of the storm, and things are complicated by the fact that Jamie is in the process of coming to terms with being gay, and her best friend, Terry, also gay, has fallen in love with a boy whose parents are anti-homosexual. As Jamie’s and Terry’s sexual orientation becomes more obvious to other studetns, it looks as if the paper they’re fighting to keep alive and honest is going to be taken away from them. Nancy Garden has depicted a contemporary battleground in a novel that probes deep into issues of censorship, prejudice, and ethics. — High school senior Jamie Crawford wants to run the Wilson High Telegraph with all the integrity and honesty of any big time editor. But it’s the paper’s editorial page that comes under fire when Jamie writes an opinion in support of the new health ed curriculum, which includes making condoms available to high school students. Most of her fellow news staff are in agreement with her views, but her close friend Nomi, who is the art editor, opposes them. At the same time, a new and outspoken school board member, Lisa Buel, is campaigning to rewrite the new curriculum, stressing sexual abstinence and deleting references to homosexuality and condom use; she also favors removing books she considers objectionable from the town’s public and school libraries. While Jamie and her newspaper staff find themselves in the very heart of the controversy, things grow even more complicated: Jamie’s in the process of coming to terms with being gay, and her best friend, sports editor Terry Gage, who is also gay, has fallen in love with a boy whose parents are unaccepting of homosexuality. As Jamie’s and Terry’s sexual orientation becomes more obvious to the other students, the paper they work so hard on faces ever more serious attacks and, long with the health ed curriculum, the threat of termination. Nancy Garden has here zoomed in on a white hot contemporary battleground in a novel that probes deep into the difficult issues of censorship, prejudice, and morality.
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