So my hometown (or at least my home region, since Orlando is not so much a place as a series of interconnected geographical ideas) is dealing with a challenge to many books, including Looking for Alaska.
The challengers involved say that my book would meet Florida’s legal definition of obscenity, and that it shouldn’t be available to teen readers in the public library of Leesburg. First, just let me note that I am not a pornographer:
Let me make this clear: An individual scene from a novel cannot be read out of context. It won’t make sense. It will seem other from what it is. You cannot know whether a novel is obscene from a screenshot of a single page on television news.
Alaska is a novel about radical hope and the power of forgiveness, not about oral sex. The scene between Lara and Pudge–that humorous, massively unerotic scene–exists to argue against casual sexual encounters.
Readers get this. If a parent doesn’t think his or her children have the intellectual sophistication to read critically, that’s fine. Don’t let your kids read the book. But a well-organized minority shouldn’t be allowed to make collection decisions in our public libraries. As a community, we hire well-educated and highly qualified librarians to make those decisions. Those librarians serve the public, not just the shouting activists, and librarians should not be made to fear their collection decisions by cowardly city commissions.
As always, any parents with questions or concerns about any of my books are welcome to email me at me –at– sparksflyup.com. This includes the parents in Leesburg.