Exploring the world of banned books

Ravin Bhatia

NESPA Winner: Feature story, 2023

The Cypress, Brookline High School, Brookline, MA

Book banning. In recent months, several state governments have become leaders for this burgeoning, deeply politicized movement. In its wake, long-taught works have been ushered off of shelves, spawning significant controversy. Yet, several students have sought to counteract this crusade, hoping to ensure that these books are not forgotten.

Founded in 2021 by senior Ben Kaplan, the Banned Books Club, which convenes weekly during faculty collaboration, selects, reads and ruminates over banned books. Guided by prompts often conceived by co-presidents and sophomores Sophie Finkelstein and Alina Samarasan, the club holds roundtable discussions encompassing thorough analysis of a book’s themes, characters and challenging content.

During the 2021-22 academic year, the club read three works: Art Spiegelman’s genre-spanning, Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus; Sherman Alexie’s semi-autobiographical The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian; and Trung Le Nguyen’s The Magic Fish.

At present, the club is reading Blankets, Craig Thompson’s coming-of-age graphic novel that features a sexually abusive priest. Samarasan said that when examining books containing difficult themes, the club proceeds more slowly with its conversations.


Read the full story here.