Looking for AlaskaAnother challenge to Looking for Alaska? Well, it is a new year. This time, a parent in conservative Marion County, Kentucky, is challenging its use in a 12th grade classroom.

The complaint about John Green’s Printz Award-winning young adult novel came after Marion High School teacher Emily Veatch went beyond what she was required and sent a letter home to parents of her 17- and 18-year-old students informing them that she was planning to teach the book and offering an opt-out to anyone who preferred that their teenager not take part in the unit.

Instead of simply opting her child out, one parent decided she didn’t want anyone reading the book, and filed a formal complaint. Members of the community – many of whom don’t have children in the schools – have joined her, complaining about the language of the book, calling it “pornography” and “garbage,” without reading the entire novel. Even the teacher, beloved by her students, is under fire.

Looking for Alaska deals with issues of friendship, self-discovery, and loss—issues that many teenagers are dealing with themselves. Perhaps the students in this senior class would benefit from the guided discussion that was planned.

John Green is already on the case, and has drummed up hundreds of posts of support on his Facebook page. The local library has reacted by building a “Banned Books” table, and is accepting donations of the book, and students are selling Looking for Alaska t-shirts to show their support – of both the book, and their teacher.

We’re getting ready to join them.

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