Read a Banned or Challenged Book: It is tragic to hear news of books being challenged in 2022, but it’s happening with startling frequency of late. That is why we are challenging you to go a step further than those seeking to eliminate these titles and actually read them as part of the Adult Summer Reading Challenge. I have picked two, one classic and one contemporary, that both seek to address systematic racism, though in very different ways. The first is the classic novel by Toni Morrison, Beloved. Published in 1987, the book has been challenged repeatedly, even as recently as 2021. In the novel, Morrison depicts a ghost story of sorts, about Sethe, a slave living in post-Civil War Ohio who is haunted by the ghost of her dead baby girl. Yes, it is graphic, but it’s a story that needs to make an impact, to be visceral and to resonate long after the book is finished.
The second book I chose is The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. The book centers on a teen named Starr, who lives in Garden Heights, a fictional, middle class black neighborhood, but attends an affluent mostly white private school on the other side of the city. While riding home from a party one night, her and a neighborhood friend are pulled over by police, told to get out of the car, and then an officer shoots her friend. Starr is devastated by the incident, and equally devastated by the attitudes of those around her in the wake of her witness testimony. She struggles to realize how to act while being caught between the pressures of her family and her school community. It’s a moving portrayal of a smart young woman caught in an awful tragedy, and an excellent illustration of the systems of oppression the Black Lives Matter Movement aims to fight.