A Book Banning Tale

Answers in the Pages by David Levithan

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Summary from NetGalley:

When Donovan left his copy of The Adventurers on the kitchen counter, he didn’t think his mom would read it—much less have a problem with it. It’s just an adventure novel about two characters trying to stop an evil genius…right?
 
But soon the entire town is freaking out about whether the book’s main characters are gay, Donovan’s mom is trying to get the book removed from the school curriculum, and Donovan is caught in the middle.
 
Donovan doesn’t really know if the two boys fall in love at the end or not—but he does know this: even if they do, it shouldn’t matter. The book should not be banned from school. 
 
Interweaving three connected storylines, David Levithan delivers a bold, fun, and timely story about taking action (whether it’s against book censors or deadly alligators…), being brave, and standing up for what’s right. 

ARC provided by Random House Children via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

I really enjoyed this very short but wonderfully written story about current events and handles them in a very realistic and non sensationalized way. There is also a wholesomeness to this story that some of the other books on this subject are missing.

This book actually has three stories in it. The one about the book banning, excerpts from the book being banned and then a third story, which at first doesn’t appear to be connected to the other two, but it does all come together by the end.

Donovan is the narrator of the book banning story, and he is mystified by his mother’s disapproval of the book. I loved that he went to the school library to get a copy when his mother took his away so that he could still read it. Showing that often known fact, that when you forbid someone to do something, they will just go ahead and do it anyways. He is a pretty smart and perceptive kid, and when he confronts his mother he makes some good arguments and points that kids his age would conceivably make.

The whole book banning storyline was done very well and very realistically. There is a procedure that most schools and libraries have in place when a parent has an issue with a book. Some of these procedures seem to have been forgotten in the current climate however. The climax of the school board meeting was also well done and went the way you would expect.

The story line that was about the actual book in question was a lot of fun. I would like to read the whole story as it seemed like quite the adventure with three friends who have each others backs. The two boys are definitely friends who love each other and there is nothing wrong with that.

The third story is about Gabriel and Roberto, two boys who also go to the same school as Donovan. They become friends and then something more than friends. This is a very sweet story with a very sweet first kiss. I loved that Gabriel liked to look at words and names and come up with as many words or phrases using the same letters. This story isn’t tied into the other story about book banning until pretty close to the end, but there are hints along the way if you pay attention as to who these two boys really are.

Another great book about banning books and one that I think most kids will be able to relate to. I have had some great conversations with kids about book banning and why it is wrong, and I think this book will spark some great conversations with them as well.

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