Book too explicit for Fremont students

Bastard out of Carolina got a lot of press when it was first published in 1993. Three years later, Hollywood turned it into a movie, staring Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Apparently, it’s violent. The protagonist is a girl who was molested, beaten and raped by her stepfather.

And if Fremont students want to read it, they’ll have to go to the library.

The school board earlier this month voted 3-2 to exclude it from its list of approved books. It had already been approved by a district curriculum committee, but board members Ivy Wu, Lily Mei and Larry Sweeney didn’t think it belonged in the classroom. Bryan Gephardt and Lara York felt otherwise.

Click here for the book’s Wiki synopsis.

My understanding is that the board did approve the two other books before them:
1) The Man Who was Poe  – A mystery with Edgar Allen Poe as a character
2) Code Talker – A novel about Navajo Marines in WWII.

Matt Artz


  1. I’m an avid reader and always have been, so I read the synopsis carefully and thoroughly. Having done so, I find that I agree with removing this book from the approved list (which is not censorship, per se). This book sounds much too intense, far too violent, and would seem to have nothing in it of value for a high school student. There are literally thousands of books that would benefit students in numerous ways. I’m surprised this one was even considered. I would have serious doubts about any teacher (at the high school level) who would assign this book.

    At a college level, perhaps to critique the story and writing style, etc., it might be appropriate.

  2. Shouldn’t teachers decide what is appropriate for their students to read?

  3. I wonder if the board members read the book before banning it. I’ve not read it, but we read “Light in August” and “Invisible Man” when I was a high school senior, they included rape, murder and castration. I still like Faulkner…

  4. Thanks to the School Board, Students are spared from a book that is too intense and violent for high school students. I appreciate Larry Sweeney, Ivy Wu and Lily Mei for making the right call.

  5. Matt, do you really think 12th grade AP English students can’t handle a book? This effectively is censorship. How Victorian of the board.

  6. I haven’t read the book, but from the acclaim I will assume it’s a bona fide piece of literature. It’s almost a silly idea to think kid’s sanctity is being preserved by removing an adult book from the classroom. By way of the media, internet and music teenagers are exposed to (and engage in) equally threatening activity on their own- sexual, criminal, etc.

  7. I’m the AP English Literature teacher who submitted Bastard Out of Carolina for approval. I’d like to emphasize that it passed through TWO layers of district committees before reaching the board. I’d also like to know if the three board members who voted against it actually read it. No offense, but I have my doubts. It would be nice to know they voted with full awareness of what they were voting on, so if any of them would like to prove my skepticism to be unfounded, I would welcome their assurances.

    The wonderful thing about this is that more students will read the book now than would ever have been interested in it before. So thank you, conservative and overprotective board members, for increasing our young people’s exposure to the very issues that you sought to shield them from.

    By the way, my twelve year old daughter read Bastard Out of Carolina earlier this year and loved it. Kids are smarter than some adults give them credit for. As parents and educators, it’s condescending and ignorant to prevent them from reading about difficult subjects. The more enlightened and responsible approach is to guide them through the reading, giving them a chance to ask questions and discuss it openly with adult supervision. That is how we TEACH. That is how we prepare young people to enter a complicated adult world where they have to make informed decisions on difficult topics.

    But I suppose that would require that we take time out of our busy schedules to actually read books, too…maybe when adults are pressed for time, the easier solution is to just keep our kids from reading anything we’re not ready to talk to them about.

  8. Ignorance is not just restricted to rednecks, but also the board members. Who appointed them. What are there problems. Do they realize how utterly stupid they appear

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