Title: Banned Books
Author: R.J. Astruc
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press July 2013
Blurb: A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title
At St. Peter’s, an exclusive British boarding school for boys, a teacher’s word is law—and Anthony Parker is leading a rebellion. When he is found reading a book containing “questionable content,” he receives a reprimand from the headmaster. Parker responds by secretly lending questionable materials to other students, aided by his best friend and long-time crush, Rafe.
The situation escalates when their draconic literature teacher discovers their subterfuge and compiles a banned books list. Parker and Rafe fall in with Peter Fritz, a broody outcast who’s turning the ban in his favor by buying and lending banned books to students—for a price. As the banned books library grows and hidden feelings threaten the boys’ burgeoning partnership, they discover that the challenges of growing up might outweigh the rewards of bucking the system.
Review: What a fun story. I really liked that the voice sounds like an actual teenager. Young, innocent, learning who he is and what he wants in life, struggling with crushes and the complications of handling your emotions as they change and dealing with all the hormones and the confusion they lead to.
This is a great YA book. I loved that they didn’t have have these guys sleeping all over the place and doing crazy, risky things, or getting high or drunk. Those books have their place, but this felt like a book I would tell my friends they could let their teens read, with no reservations. This was the story of a kid who has done a lot of his growing up in a boarding school and has had to learn how to stand on his own and follow his own moral compass in life.
I enjoyed Parker’s voice and his inner debates and obsessing. He felt real and honest and like he appreciated what he had in his life. He recognized his limitations and tried to do well in school and make his parents proud. In many ways he was pulled along by stronger personalities and seemed unsure of how to get out of his situation with the secret library, but I also think that he enjoyed the action and he truly thought that what the administration was doing was wrong.
Being a teenager is hard enough without adding in a crush on your straight best friend. I could totally understand his crush on his best friend, Rafe ( I thought Rafe was pretty fantastic myself) and how he didn’t know how to get past it. I loved that he didn’t receive a lot of crap for being gay and that he was, mostly, comfortable with his homosexuality. I loved that he was willing to stand up for what he believed.
A fast, sweet and charming read that will have you rethinking helicopter parenting and the importance of allowing a young person to stand on their own and do what they know is right, with guidance, of course.
Reviewed by Nina
Posted on August 2, 2013, in Nina and tagged B List, Boarding School, Bucking the Establishment, Censorship, coming-of-age, Contemporary, Crushes, Crushing On Your Straight Best Friend, DSP, England, First Love, Friendship, High School, Library, Love Triangles, Nina, Reading the Classics, unrequited love. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.