Ignorance, ill will muddy book debate


The recent storm of complaints involving the book “ The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” begs several questions. Have the people complaining read the book? The second question I would ask is from what moral high ground are these complaints being lodged?

I read the book and found it to do a good job of presenting the challenges and difficulties that a 14-year-old boy could face in his struggles to become a young man. One of the most controversial parts of the book involves a racial slur using profane language; it is a turning point in the book, it demands a reaction from the main character that defines his opinion of himself. I found it appropriate for the underlying message of the story at that point.

A second point of complaint was the reference to masturbation. To that I say read James Dobson’s “Bringing Up Boys” pages 78-80.

A third complaint that I have seen is that the book is written at too young of a grade level, the theme of the main character and his best friend’s friendship, separation, and story ending reconciliation are certainly at a level appropriate for eighth grade.

It is hard for me to give much credence to the complaints of people who have not read the book, taking snippets from the book and reading them out of context serves no one. I do believe the book is on the edge, but combined with the passion of the teachers and the interest of the kids, it is an acceptable tool in the classroom.

This had been a fairly civil matter, but after reading this week’s The New Era I feel compelled to point out that the tactics of Rachel Kittson-MaQuatish are arrogantly manipulative. She arrogantly dismisses the committee’s findings because it wasn’t what she wanted, then she attempts to manipulate the school board with a veiled threat about a public vote.

While still entitled to her opinion, I believe she lost her credibility when she started bullying.

For the record, most, if not all of the questionable content of this book has been at the SHJH since at least 1979, when I attended the school. The best we can do is try to help today’s students learn how to handle these things in an appropriate and acceptable manner.

Thank You.

Brandy James

Sweet Home