Wednesday, September 23, 2009


So I've just had my first experience with book banning. Turns out, some members of the "committee" at a local elementary school who were considering my book for an event were offended by the inclusion of "afterbirth" in LEAVING GEE'S BEND. The committee decided not to invite me for the event.

Last time I checked, we ALL come into this world the same way. Afterbirth is part of the deal. And it's one line of dialogue, ONE LINE, included as a way to tell the reader something about the character and setting of the novel.

It reminds me of the hoopla surrounding Susan Patron's Newbery-Award winning THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY. Of course on a very miniature scale.

Laurie Halse Anderson is also battling this issue. See here for recent details.

What's to be done about it? I don't know. As authors, we go into this knowing our words will not please everyone. But "afterbirth" ?? Come on!

For an interesting take on Banned Book Week, check out this post (also where I got the photo).


  1. That is such hogwash! Can you get into any kind of dialogue with them about it? I know you're not Laurie Halse Anderson (no offense), but I would so love for them to articulate what is "offensive" about the word after-birth and what they're afraid of 5th-graders learning. That babies don't live in the mothers' stomach? Anyway, I am outraged on your behalf and sorry you had this experience!

  2. Good freaking grief. Those parents are what's wrong with the world. Banning books should be, well, banned.

    Take heart - you're in great company. Seems like all the best authors have been banned at some point, from Mark Twain to Harper Lee to JK Rowling to Laurie Halse Anderson. So, congratulations!

  3. Holy moly!!! I feel outraged for you! I'm practically sputtering with disgust at how ridiculous people can be.

    I second the idea of hearing the rationale for their offense. And as Anna Claire said, you are in good company. Such a shame that kids often miss out on wonderful books because of the limited viewpoints of a few grownups.

  4. That's crazy, Irene! Seriously, afterbirth? I'm sorry this happened.

  5. Ah, silliness. Afterbirth is definitely not a bad word--just a correct, appropriate noun.

    Eh. Their loss. But sorry to hear about the situation.

  6. I'm not the hugest fan of afterbirth as an entity (lol) but as a WORD? who cares?

  7. Personally I'm hoping to get banned in (say) Alabama, and then make a little round gold sticker that says "BANNED IN ALABAMA" and apply it to the cover of my book as a badge of honor. It's the only way to make sense of such foolishness.

    Afterbirth, fah. We must get to designing that sticker. Maybe there could be embossing? In the shape of the circle-and-slash "don't" sign?

  8. Well, the best revenge is SALES! But wow. Afterbirth? I guess you should have stuck to the stork story. :-)

  9. We must keep writing stories. The world contains afterbirth and so will our stories. I wish people would be willing to read and talk about whole books. I wish people were willing to think and not just react out of fear. Keep on keeping on.

  10. So sad, but at the same time, laughable. I actually read somewhere that a book was banned from a library because it mentioned wine in it. Does that mean that the best selling book in history should be banned? I believe water was turned into wine at one point in it. Your book will be a great success despite this silliness.

  11. I know I'm late to the party here, but I just have to add that most of my favorite books were banned for some dumb reason or another.

    I think this is a good omen! Great things are in store for Gee's Bend...


Your thoughts?