Connis, Dave. Suggested Reading. Fiction. K. Tegen, 09/2019. 390pp. $17.9.9 978-0-06-268525-4. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 8-ADULT.
“The problem is, we bring ourselves to the pages. Our whole selves. Every single darkness. Every single light. Every single passion. Every single hurt. We read with all the layers that make us who we are acting as filters. We read with all that our eyes have seen and all our hearts have felt since birth.” When you love a book, the thought that it could be seen as dangerous and detrimental to others is viscerally painful, and when super-library-volunteer and scholarship student Clara Evans accidentally finds that her elite Tennessee prep school is banning fifty titles in an ongoing censorship spree, she is inspired to create an underground library for her fellow students. While the characters have minimal physical description, and race is possibly deliberately hard to discern, author Dave Connis grapples mightily with issues of power and privilege, control, consent, and collaboration—with echoes of overtones, the imaginary Civil War-era library adventure novel which inspires Clara to action. With her amazing student president friend LiQui Carson, Clara secretly challenges the status quo of her school’s conservative donors and administration, ultimately uncovering not only institutional but also personal repression, and coming to a deep understanding of the collateral costs of standing up for what you believe in. Fabulous quotes, wonderful teen dialogue and repeated shout outs to banned books, from Their Eyes Were Watching God to Eleanor and Park, make this a novel for book enthusiasts.
Lesley Mandros Bell, Oakland Lib Advisory Commission