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‘This Book Will Save Lives’



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To the Editor:

“This book will save lives...” is at the very top of the front cover of the graphic novel Flamer by Mike Curato. After reading it, I have no reason to doubt that the statement is entirely on point.

I am at a loss as to why some people in our community want to ban this book from the Newtown High School library. I have been to most of the BOE meetings since the call to censor books went on the agenda. Calls for book banning and censorship in a free and thinking community compelled me to take notice and start attending.

So far, I have witnessed the pro book ban individuals take snippets from the book, taking them out of context and presenting them as “pornography.” The crazy thing is that when asked if they had read the book, they admitted that they hadn’t. Actually, when I asked that same question to friends who have fallen for the “this book is pornographic” hysteria, I also got the same answer.

Since when are we against providing young individuals, who are within four years away from being out in the real world, with the opportunity to think, understand and even celebrate our differences?

The book Flamer is a graphic novel about a boy coming of age. He is gay and is coming to terms with that realization. He is caught in a whirlwind, of self doubt, bullying, guilt stemming from his faith, and all the conventional anti gay messages that society sets against him. This book is truly powerful in the sense that it makes you think.

That’s the key point of this book. It makes you THINK.

As I read the book, I progressed from thinking what a difficult situation this young boy was dealing with, to better understanding his predicament and eventually arriving at a feeling of empathy. It took me back to my time as a teenager, dealing with my insecurities, which paled in comparison from the main character in Flamer, and finding my way to adulthood.

It was a powerful and eye opening story. The kind of story you would want kids at high school level to read and utilize as a mirror or as a window for better understanding and acceptance. There is nothing objectionable or pornographic about the content of the book. I think you might find more “pornographic” material in the high school sex education course books than in this novel. I hope that doesn’t lead to banning sex ed in the schools next.

We need to do a better job understanding when we are being sold a bill of goods through manipulative hysteria. Banning books and embracing censorship because someone said so has no place in a free and thinking society.

Although I am Chair of the Newtown Democratic Town Committee, the opinions expressed above are entirely my own.

Alex Villamil

Sandy Hook

Comments are open. Be civil.
1 comment
  1. qstorm says:

    Bill of goods being sold here is defending the clandestine placement of this material in the public school libraries. Parents must know that they, through the Board of Education, are in charge.

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