Title: Answers in the Pages
Author: David Levithan
Genre: Realistic Middle Grade Fiction
Number of Pages: 176
Donovan is shocked and confused when his mom and other parents go into gay panic over a book he’s been assigned for school, The Adventurers. Believing that the two main characters are homosexuals, the perturbed adults insist that Donovan and his classmates are ‘too young’ to be reading about alternative lifestyles.
People assume that Donovan agrees with his mom about the book, but he thinks her antagonism towards a light adventure story is insane. The storyline about Donovon and the controversy in his community alternates with the connected story of a turtle-obsessed boy named Gideon and his relationship with his classmate Roberto, as well as chapters from The Adventurers.
I was really excited about this book and thought it had a great premise but I ended up being somewhat disappointed. The romance between Roberto and Gideon was really cute and endearing but the whole plotline with Donovon and the book banning felt heavy-handed. The big scene with the school board meeting felt like something out of a cheesy movie, I half expected the kids yelling ‘gay rights!’ to stand on the table like Dead Poet’s Society or something.
I was a little puzzled about why The Adventurers was supposed to be required reading, the writing in the book-within-a-book was not good. People kept acting like it was great but I thought it seemed like a case of something getting undeserved attention because of controversy. This book didn’t quite work for me but it might appeal more to younger readers.
It also might educate them about some of the issues related to censorship and inspire them to read some banned and challenged books and take a stand against book banning in general. It was a cute story but Levithan’s books The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan H. (as told to his brother) and Take Me With You When You Go (co-written with Jennifer Niven) were far superior.
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