Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Book Week: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Once upon a time I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time I didn't know how lucky I was.

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends -- her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.

Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.

This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.

Why it was banned: Living Dead Girl is listed on this years ALA Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009-2010 Here's what they said: Challenged, but retained at the Effi ngham, Ill. Helen Matthes Library (2009) despite concerns about its graphic content and the unsatisfactory ending. The book is about a fi fteen-year-old’s perspective of living with her captor after being forcibly kidnapped and imprisoned at the age of ten. The book has received several accolades from book critics.

From the author: While preparing for Banned Book Week I had the good fortune to email with Elizabeth about her thoughts on the challenge. She had the following to say about Living Dead Girl being banned/challenged.

"I think it’s easy to get outraged over a child’s abduction, and what happens to him/her, but it’s also equally easy for us to see something—someone—that makes us uncomfortable, a moment or an expression that give us pause, and to do nothing.

And that moment where we see and turn away is the heart of Living Dead Girl. Alice’s story isn’t just about what she endures with Ray. It’s what she endures at the hands of the world. How it doesn’t see her.

How the world turns away.

How we turn away.

As far as banning/censoring Living Dead Girl, it has happened, and I suspect it will keep happening. I can’t tell people what to think or how to feel about the book, and if what I’ve written upsets them, I believe they’re entitled to their opinion, just as I was free to write a story I felt needed to be told.

And while I don’t believe any book should be banned, I know there are those who feel differently, and though I hope that Living Dead Girl will be read and discussed, if there are those who want the book banned, then--well, we do all make choices when it comes to what we want to see, don’t we?"

What did I think: I recently discovered Scott when I came across her book Something, Maybe. So when I saw her book Living Dead Girl on this years challenged book list I knew that I wanted to read it. I have very mixed feeling about this book. On the one hand it's horrifying and heartbreaking. It was hard for me to read, because it is a hard topic to think about. That is the power in Scott's writing. The book makes you squirm because you know it's right. That this happens to some people, that you might have seen them on the street, that you might have looked away. Not only was Alice taken and kept, but she encounters people everyday who should have stepped in, but didn't. Like I said, horrifying. That being said, it's a book that should absolutely be read. It reminds us to keep our eyes open to those around us. To really look and to give ourselves permission to help if we think something is wrong. If you don't, for whatever reason, there could be an Alice who is suffering. I think this book is magnificent and if you haven't read it, head to the library, this one is on the must-read list.

Check out Scott's website for more information about all of her books. Of course, don't forget to enter the Banned Book Week Giveaway, which contains a SIGNED copy of Living Dead Girl.

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