alcoholism

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Banned Books 2016 – OCTOBER READ – The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Published October 31, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing–a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

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Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to our tenth banned book of 2016! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of 2016…

NOVEMBER- Gossip Girl- Cecily Von Ziegesar

DECEMBER – My Sister’s Keeper- Jodi Picoult

But back to this month….

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

First published: 2005

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2012 (source)

Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: As one of the more fairly recent releases for our banned books list this year, answers for the first two questions are going to be similar as I don’t think attitudes have changed that much in the last ten or so years. There are a few profanities in the text with one mention of the “c” word which I know some people may not take too kindly to. However, I feel that no matter where you go or what you try to avoid, you cannot help but hear bad language, whether it’s in the street or on the television. If you’re offended by bad language, fair enough that’s your own personal right and you can choose to read this book or not. In my opinion, it’s not completely littered with profanity so I was perfectly happy whilst reading it. 

CHRISSI: It does have some offensive language, I know the ‘c’ word certainly offends me, but when used in this book it didn’t bother me so much because it was the reality of the situation. It didn’t prevent me from reading this book, it just made me cringe a little. That’s fine. That’s real. I can see that its heavy subject matter might be too much for teenagers but moving into YA and adult, I don’t think it’s something that should be necessarily banned. As Beth says, you can hear much worse on TV, around friends and with music.

How about now?

BETH: See first answer! This book is not marketed as a young adult novel. In fact, it is on the “adult” category of GoodReads. This may be down to the occasional bad language, sexual references or some of the more adult content that it contains. The subject matter that this novel deals with is difficult and was, at times, hard to read for me but I’m incredibly glad that I did because I found it a wonderful, highly emotional piece of writing. I can’t really think of any hard and fast reasons why it should be challenged/banned and think a memoir of this standard deserves to be read.

CHRISSI: Like Beth, I don’t think it should be necessarily challenged or banned as I think it’s a highly important read. Perhaps, if in a high school/college library it should have a notice for explicit content, but an outright ban? No I wouldn’t agree with that.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I thought it was a brilliant read! The fact that it is a memoir just made Jeannette’s difficult upbringing with her family all the more poignant and a little chilling in places if I’m honest. I felt so sorry for Jeannette and her brother and sisters being brought up in such an environment, moving from place to place, sleeping in cars and rooting through rubbish bins just to find something to eat. It’s a life that no child should have to experience and really made me think about people that are less fortunate and don’t have the blessing of a stable home/family.

CHRISSI: I was utterly gripped by this book. I couldn’t put it down, but at the same time, I wanted to because it was such an intense read. It was tough to read about what Jeannette and her siblings went through. It made me realise how lucky I was to have the upbringing that I did. It certainly kept me thinking and I imagine this book will stay with me for a long time.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’S personal star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Join us again on the last Monday of November when we will be discussing Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar.

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The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

Published May 2, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

EVERYDAY THE SAME

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

UNTIL TODAY

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

What did I think?:

The Girl On The Train is the debut novel from author Paula Hawkins and when it first came out early last year there was a lot of hype surrounding it. Of course, I’m a bit of a sucker for hype and I knew I had to read it to check out what the fuss was all about. I do get a teensy bit annoyed (like some other bloggers I’m sure) when a book is declared “the next *insert name of very popular book here,* in this case it was “The next Gone Girl,” because I didn’t really feel it had too many similarities with Gone Girl to be honest! The book stands on its own as a great psychological thriller, a story with an edge and multiple twists that is exciting to read and intricately plotted leaving me in glorious anticipation over what the author may do next.

My favourite thing about this book (and where I think it is most comparable to Gone Girl) is the number of unreliable narrators. We mainly hear from Rachel who is divorced, a bit overweight and incredibly unhappy. She has a very shaky relationship with her ex-husband, relies a smidge too much on alcohol to see her through each day – to the point where she has actually lost her job. Too ashamed to tell anyone, which might actually lead to her having to face her problems she continues to get the same train into work each day, manages to fill each day randomly which usually involves drinking then gets the train home again when her working day should have officially ended.

Her train route passes by her old house which her ex-husband now shares with his new wife, Anna and their baby girl, tellingly something that Rachel herself was unable to give him. However, it is a house close to her old homestead that catches her eye whilst on the train. Every morning she watches a couple break-fasting together on their terrace and soon begins to fantasise about their fairy-tale life together, even naming them “Jess and Jason.” One particular day, when looking for her favourite couple, she witnesses something that shocks her to her core.

Unable to rest until she gets to the bottom of what has occurred, Rachel drags herself into the couple’s life which leads to her forming a separate link to her ex-husband and his wife again. Prone to black-outs from her drinking benders, can Rachel’s accounts ever be trusted? And what of our other unreliable narrators Anna and Megan (the female half of the couple Rachel views from the train)? I’m not going to spoil why they’re unreliable, I think the less you know going into this novel, the better but believe me, you’ll be scratching your head to unravel the convoluted plot that Paula Hawkins has magically woven. This is a truly thrilling story for fans of the genre, is certainly one I’ll be re-visiting in the future and I’m already eagerly awaiting the author’s next novel.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Banned Books #6 Lush by Natasha Friend with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library

Published December 29, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Natasha Friend is a Judy Blume for today — clearly evident in this remarkable new novel about a girl whose father is an alcoholic and how she and her family learn to deal with his condition.

It’s hard to be a 13-year-old girl. But it’s even harder when your father’s a drunk. It adds an extra layer to everything — your family’s reactions to things, the people you’re willing to bring home, the way you see yourself and the world. For Samantha, it’s something that’s been going on for so long that she’s almost used to it. Only, you never get used to it. Especially when it starts to get worse…

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Welcome to the last book in our Banned Books Challenge where very month for the last six months of 2014, I have been collaborating with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library. We have been looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book.

This month’s book is….

Lush by Natasha Friend

First published: 2007
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2010 (
source)
Chosen by: Bibliobeth
Reason: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group


Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: This is such a recent publication (2007) that I’m actually really surprised that it is banned/challenged in schools. Out of all the books we have read so far, this is the one that I really don’t understand the reasons behind it and it confused me so much that I actually had to leaf through the book again to try and work out why there may be problems.
CHRISSI: This is one book that I totally DO NOT see why it was challenged. I’m actually quite annoyed by it being challenged, because I actually see this book as a book that could be used to support teenagers going through the very same thing. It is a story about alcoholism- so of course it’s going to contain reference to that. As for offensive language… pffft. 
LUNA: You know I actually checked to see if there was another Lush by Natasha Friend because seriously are you kidding me? Do I understand any of the reasons – NO. The story is about a 13 year old girl dealing with her father’s alcoholism how can it not contain alcohol and its effects? The offensive language as far as I can figure out is the word “boobs”. I repeat, are you kidding me?!

How about now?

BETH: As I said above, this is a recent release, and not much has changed in seven years, so definitely NO. By banning or challenging it, I think it could be depriving teenagers of a book that could be incredibly useful if they were in a similar situation. There was a sexual scene but I really don’t think it was particularly explicit (You probably get worse on Coronation Street or Eastenders for goodness sake!)
CHRISSI: No. It could be used as a support/understanding/educative book. Just no. 
LUNA: Pfft. Don’t understand why it’s ever been challenged in the first place. I’ve said it so many times but here I go again: Don’t underestimate teenagers.

What did you think of this book?

BETH: I think this is one of my favourite books out of our banned book series. It was a beautiful and emotional rollercoaster of a read as Sam and her family learn to deal with her father’s addiction. The characters were brilliantly realised, I loved our main character Sam and her little brother Luke is too adorable for words. For me, it felt like such an authentic read that I think teenagers in the same situation could relate to the circumstances that Sam finds herself in and benefit from it.
CHRISSI: This book is potentially my favourite out of our banned book series. It contains so many important topics and as I’ve said before, I think it could be incredibly educative/supportive. I was very moved by this story. I loved it!
LUNA: I am so impressed how much of a punch this relatively short book packs. Sam has a lot to contend with, her father has been drinking for a long time but her mother isn’t acknowledging it. Sam’s father is stressed, he needs support and understanding. Sam doesn’t agree and then it comes the night he goes too far.
Natasha Friend really deals with the emotions Sam goes through brilliantly, as the reader you’re with Sam from the very beginning. I loved the friendship she strikes up with AJK. Sam’s relationship with her little brother, how she looks after him. At times my heart just ached. Lush is a great book.

Would you recommend it?

BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Without a doubt!
LUNA: Absolutely
BETH’s Personal Star Rating:
 four-stars_0
I’ve really enjoyed our Banned Books Challenge this year so thanks to Chrissi Reads and Luna for making the process so fun. Next year Chrissi Reads and I will be back with more Banned Books and we’re hoping Luna may be able to drop in from time to time. Wishing everyone a very happy 2015!
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