Indiana mother wants to ban TWISTED

Wait, didn’t we do this already?

This time the setting is South Central Junior-Senior High School in Harrison County, IN where a parent is filing the paperwork to have TWISTED removed from the school.

TWISTED was assigned in this parent’s, Ms. Mathis, son’s English class. An alternative book, THE OUTSIDERS, was made available for students whose parents were not comfortable with TWISTED. Ms. Mathis chose THE OUTSIDERS for her son, then started on the path to have TWISTED removed from the school completely.

Here is a quote from Ms. Mathis in today’s The Corydon Democrat, the local paper in her community.

""(Twisted) has a lot of bad language in it and situations in it that I don’t think are appropriate," Mathis said Monday. "If the students are going to watch an R-rated movie, they have to get permission ahead of time from parents … And I think there’s a (double-standard) in saying kids can’t cuss at school, yet they are allowed to read a book with such bad words in it.""

It was very nice to be contacted by the local reporter and given a chance to add my voice to the discussion.

"Anderson said the strong language was required for the character’s situation.

"The scene in which Tyler, the main character, uses the ‘F-word’ is the scene in which he is actively contemplating suicide. I used it at that point — the critical point in the book — because it shows the level of the character’s desperation. People on the verge of killing themselves tend not to edit their vocabulary," Anderson said.

Anderson said it’s easier for parents to allow their children to only read the classics and avoid difficult situations, but to do so is "to condemn our children to ignorance.""

You really should read the entire article. (Note: I disagree with the article’s first paragraph. I still don’t have complete information about the current status of TWISTED in the Kentucky high school.)

I am off for a run now.

15 Replies to “Indiana mother wants to ban TWISTED”

  1. I can’t believe people actually want to ban books. That is horrible, honestly, to not let the kids have the chance to go to the library and choose whatever book happens to be published just because someone’s parent thinks it’s wrong. There are plenty of other books out there that are way more graphic and plant way worse ideas in the heads of children, some of them without even meaning to, most of them without even meaning to. Your books are amazing, my mom and I have been reading them for as long as I can remember, and my sister has just recently started reading them as well. We love all of your works, and I hope that this disgruntled fool in Indiana realizes that it isn’t her business to stop the rest of the county from reading something just because she doesn’t like it.
    -Melony Hurley
    p.s. I’m following you on Twitter, @shadowclash.

  2. this is what i just submitted to the newspaper article!

    At the time I first read Twisted, I was tutoring kids on probation in southern Indiana. These were teens who struggled in school, who skipped class, who swore, had sex, drank, did drugs, were raped, got sent to juvie, were abused, were neglected, raised their siblings, raised themselves, and dealt with abuse and violence at home. They were also kids from healthy families, who made straight As, who loved reading & fantasy, who loved sports and music and art, who loved school, loved their friends & families, god & country. And all of them were just kids, regular, real kids, just like the ones in Harrison County.

    No parent can shelter kids from the real world; all they can do is help them understand and navigate their way through it. Teen literature helps parents to do that. Laurie Halse Anderson is a renowned writer for teens, and her book Speak is a seminal work in YA literature. Books like Speak and Twisted represent the real world to teens without judging them or ignoring the real environmental factors in their lives.

    If the characters in those books didn’t look, sound, and act like real kids, then the books wouldn’t be able to do their work as effectively, or speak as strongly as they do to real kids whose lives look like Tyler’s (the main character of Twisted). The mild uses of profanity in Twisted don’t overrule or negate the guidance and empathy of this book, any more than the adultery, murder, and violence of David negate the guidance and wisdom of the Old Testament.

  3. First paragraph: Gah! Seriously, I wish they would have used “under debate” or something of the like, because from what I can tell the situation in Mount Sterling isn’t going to be settled easily.

    As to the rest of the article:

    I’d like to point out that this is a public school we’re talking about. There are no bad words in any book that can’t be heard at the bus stop on an average day. Not to mention that there is plenty of less-than-school-appropriate language (smoking, drinking, and violence as well) in The Outsiders, the alternative book which was barely mentioned.

    What bugs me the most is that this woman never once said she read the book; I’d like to assume she did, but that may be a bit much to ask for. She says there is “a lot of bad language,” which is quite vague, and that her son and his friends read it. She also cites her son and his friends for saying that “all” they got out of the book was a message of never giving up. We’re talking about ninth grade boys, for heaven’s sake! Their standard response for “How was your day?” is “Good.” You can’t expect them to wax prolific on the symbolism or themes or what value they personally found in the narration, especially not to a parent.

    I’m sorry you have to deal with this again.

  4. Arielle

    That would be so terrible! I love Twisted, it is a very good book and I love reading the guys point of few. It is funny! What a weird mother! (No offense to her) But that is mean, what is wrong with books like this! I dont get it.


  5. “If the students are going to watch an R-rated movie, they have to get permission ahead of time from parents … And I think there’s a (double-standard) in saying kids can’t cuss at school, yet they are allowed to read a book with such bad words in it.”

    Basically she’s saying it’s hypocritical to expect good behavior and conduct from student on school grounds and allow them to read a book with cuss words and heavy situations. It’s not hypocritical of ALL parents. Not ALL parents feel that r-rated movies shouldn’t be allowed. Not ALL parents feel the same way as Mathis does.

    “I asked my son and a couple of his friends what they got out of the book and one of them said, ‘To never give up.’ If that’s all they got out of it, then I could have shown them a whole list of books that would send the same message,” Mathis said.

    First, that isn’t the point. Yes there are plenty of books that could give the same message, but that can be true of so many other books. Second, name these books, tell your child’s teacher to consider them for YOUR child, and stop making decisions for everyone else in the school.

  6. just read twisted

    No longer a teen but with all the hubbub over it I read twisted last week. While I appreciate parents getting involved with their school itinerary, it would be nice if they also remembered that people swear around their kids when they aren’t around. Kids get into “situations” when they’re not around adults. You can’t protect your kids all the time.

  7. What upsets me about these situations is that people seem to be making decisions for other parents. As a parent it is your prerogative to allow your child to read a book or not. I may not agree, but I will grant you that you are within your rights. What really makes me head hurts is that just because you think it’s inappropriate you want to prevent MY, and other, children from reading it. She had her choice and other parents chose theirs. Why can’t she respect their decision just as they are respecting hers? Ugh!

  8. In JD Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye”, I believe Holden says “goddamm” oh… 238 times? and they mention the F-word too. and he gets a prostitute and engages in underage drinking.
    but its still a classic, its still and amazing piece of literature, and it is still my favorite book ever.

    *sigh* people upset me.

  9. I have to say it’s very difficult to maintain my composure when I see such ignorance happening all around me. I can’t even imagine if I had a book that was being challenged like this. I think I’d lose my mind from anger and frustration! It amazes me that such close-minded people are allowed to dictate to an entire population what everyone else’s children can and cannot read just because they don’t want their own kids reading it!!!

  10. And we didn’t have to get parental permission to read it in 10th grade either. And yet this book (and others) are being challenged because they’re “modern” and “new” and “holy crap our kids can’t POSSIBLY be exposed to these ideas!!!!!!”

  11. exactly! books like that are far less shocking to children these days then they would have been back in Salinger’s time. (not that it was terribly long ago)


    Don’t people realize the futility of banning books? For one thing, too few people read anymore anyway. If you have a personal problem with your child reading a book, you can try to prevent him or her from reading it. But you have NO RIGHT to use your personal prejudice to take the opportunity to read anything — HOWEVER CONTROVERSIAL — away from the rest of us.

    For another thing, doesn’t this woman realize that by attempting to ban the books, she is actually increasing the chances that it will be read? If a book was suddenly taken off the shelves of my school library because a parent insisted that it should be banned, well, I think I would want to get my hands on it and see what was oh-so-terrible about it. I think a lot of kids are the same way.

    One more thing… the thing that makes books like TWISTED so good is that they actually seem real, BECAUSE of the content and such. Sure, parents don’t want their kids to use some language, but they aren’t going to start using it just because it’s in some book. If they don’t cuss before they read it, they’re not going to start shaming sailors after reading one freaking book. If you’re so worried about it, sit down and talk to your child and explain to him or her why you don’t approve of the book, but give him or her the option to read it if they want. Once he/she reads it, have a discussion with him/her about what he/she got from it… or even ask as he/she reads.

    As a young reader, I would just like to say that sure, sometimes I find some language unnecessary in books. However, I agree that sometimes it’s essential to the story. It’s also real— a lot of teens cuss, whether they read or not, so get over it, I say.

    I think we students should speak up for our right to read. It’s a dying art. Perhaps we should have a worldwide protest. It would be freaking awesome.

  13. I went back to the article see if my comment had posted, and it had – along with a ton more. Some of those comments make me want to cry – people likening your book to a child being raped? Ridiculous. I can’t believe people can think like this and still be functional in society. I don’t understand it!

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