A Colorado school district is speaking out against Jay Asher’s book 13 Reasons Why after a spate of suicides in the county. For a while the book was an indie classic, popular but not overly so but since Netflix adapted the book for a series it’s been launched into the public eye and criticised for its handling of a teen suicide.
While the book itself didn’t originally come under too much fire, and was in fact thought of as insightful and praised, the Netflix series has been accused of glorifying suicide and breaking guidelines on how suicides should be portrayed.
Seven teen suicides in recent months in Colorado have led the Mesa County Valley School District bringing in a temporary removal of the book from schools and libraries in the area. It’s not known whether any of the young people who committed suicide had either read the book or watched the series, but the school district is taking the whole thing seriously anyway.
The novel was published in 2007 and received much praise for highlighting marginalised young adults. For the bullied there was finally a protagonist who spoke to them, and for many bullied young adults the book was a life line. However, the Netflix series has received quite a different reception and much criticism with many going so far as to say it romanticised suicide.
Colorado librarians are calling it censorship and it seems a fight is brewing, and as the story rolls on, it appears that other districts are drawing similar parallels. What do you think? Are these suicides life imitating art or is the original book just an acute account of art imitating life?
To Kill a Mockingbird is an iconic text, exploring race relations in the Deep South. For years it’s been a pivotal text used by schools, but we heard little about the author. Deeply private, Harper Lee preferred to stay out of the limelight but since her death it seems her estate has been rarely out of the news.
One woman from the UK discovered the perfect response when she was aboard a bus in her city. As the bus was very crowded, tempers were a little frayed, and one man allowed his aggression to get the better of him. Instead of asking the woman to keep her elbows in or tuck her book in a bit to make more room for others, he instead decided it was appropriate to call her a “fucking bitch”.
What book lover Jennifer Cairns did next was fantastically appropriate and a wonderfully gracious- she started reading aloud.
“How To Stop Time” by Matt Haig is the story of Tom Hazzard, who looks like an ordinary 41 year old, but due to a rare condition, he has been alive for hundreds of years. During these long centuries he has performed with Shakespeare, sailed to far off “new” lands with Captain Cook, and met and shared cocktails with The Fitzgeralds. Read More
The article in question mocked students who studied Frankenstein, who had correctly reflected on how the monster created by Dr Frankenstein was a misunderstood and sympathetic figure. A screenshot of the ignorant Tweet was saved (see right). Their article and the Tweet promoting it have since been deleted, but not before it was roundly trolled by those of us who had dared to read the book and understand its themes.
Sixteen books were picked for the longlist by the judging panel, honouring both new and well-established writers, including six debut novels.
The Chair of the Judges is Sarah Sands, Editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme who said:
“The longlist came out of a Chequers style meeting where different views were accommodated and peace reigned, at least for now. What is striking about the list, apart from the wealth of talent, is that women writers refuse to be pigeon-holed. We have searing social realism, adventure, comedy, poetic truths, ingenious plots and unforgettable characters. Women of the world are a literary force to be reckoned with.”