The universe has just righted itself: the Riverside, California middle school district that banned John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars this past October has just revoked their ban on the beloved YA novel. The book was pulled from the schools' shelves after a parent voiced her concerns about the novel's content, which includes such hard-hitting issues (as any worthwhile book should have) as teenaged sex; cancer; and "crude language."
Although living in a democratic society can result in ridiculous disappointments such as this, sometimes a redemptive action can reinstate some confidence in the human race. The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) is one of these constitution-upholding knights in shining armor: On Monday, the organization sent a forceful letter to the school district urging them to reconsider the ban. The district responded in favor of an amendment to the ban.
In their letter (their second to the Riverside Unified School District), the NCAC claim that the ban — which disallows all students not only the right to free knowledge, but the right to choose whether to obtain that knowledge —“raises constitutional questions.” The NCAC also cites the “spurious grounds of ‘age-appropriateness’” as a fundamentally unacceptable reason to revoke the students’ First Amendment rights.
John Green will be happy to hear that his book is back on the shelves. On his Tumblr, Green responded to a fan's question about the author's thoughts on the ban when it first happened. Green's reaction was, characteristically, both funny and poignant:
I guess I am both happy and sad.
I am happy because apparently young people in Riverside, California will never witness or experience mortality since they won’t be reading my book, which is great for them.
But I am also sad because I was really hoping I would be able to introduce the idea that human beings die to the children of Riverside, California and thereby crush their dreams of immortality.
Us book lovers know that banning literature is no fun. But The Fault in Our Stars in particular — besides being a damn good story — provides a veritable treasure trove of life lessons: ones that are valuable no matter how old — or young — you may be.