This year, young adult books are the focus of Banned Books Week 2015. It’s interesting to look at the books on the “most challenged” list and see which ones are contemporary young adult books and which are books that are considered classics (i.e., often assigned on high school reading lists). One book that has gotten a lot of attention is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, written in 2007. It has received many challenges, yet remains a very popular book with teens. Another contemporary young adult book that has been challenged is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, written in 1999, which was popular enough to be made into a movie in 2012.
The Catcher in the Rye, often found on high school reading lists, was actually written for adults. Published in 1951, its themes of teen alienation and angst have made it resonate with many readers, most notably teens. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, published in 1974, was written for young adults and resonated with many teen readers (although not as much with adult readers, thus making it a frequent target of challenges).
Inevitably, it seems that upon a re-read, the “contemporary classics,” like the last two books, just don’t seem that controversial. Discussions of these books often include analysis of why the book has been challenged, and whether it’s still something that’s controversial. It makes me wonder if, in another 10-15 years, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and The Perks of Being a Wallflower will still be on anyone’s challenge radar.