FCPS BOE Second Round of Book Reviews

The FCPS committee prepares to release their final report on the challenged material



Banned Books Table at Barnes and Noble

Charlotte Hoffman, Writer

FCPS book committee members have begun reviewing a second round of books. TJ representative in the committee, junior Catherine Grau, has been assigned to review Push by Sapphire, one of the most controversial titles on Cindy Rose’s list. It’s well known for its movie adaptation, Precious.

Push, “was written by a teacher who taught at a school like Heather Ridge in the seventies through nineties,” says Grau. The book is a collection of diary entries from protagonist, Precious Jones, who, at only sixteen, has two children, the product of her father’s rape. Her journal entries chronicle her life as she meets and learns from her teacher, Ms. Rain. Precious is illiterate and her entries at the beginning of the book are incoherent but as the time progresses her writing gradually becomes proficient, and her entries become more well written.

Grau says there’s extensive challenged content in the novel, “there’s a lot of sensitive language, lots of sexual abuse but it’s not described in detail it’s like she writes about it and her own feelings.” In October at a Board of Education meeting, Cindy Rose read aloud an excerpt from Push in an attempt to horrify board members and make a call for the removal of the title, along with 34 others from the FCPS libraries and told the board she would hold them, “personally responsible for allowing child pornography to be made available to our children using our tax dollars.”

Some books move more easily through the review process and some, like Push, require more attention. “It depends on the content,” says Grau. Some books have more minor challenges but, “some books are like Push,” says Grau, “heavy stuff to deal with so then…it depends on everybody’s views.”

But even through the difficulties in reviewing these books, Grau says that her subcommittee remains professional. “Everybody is coming at it no matter what their views are, from a respectful angle and I feel like that helps.”

The committee’s final report on all the books will be released at the end of June. For each book it will contain the complaint and the official response to said complaint. Grau says that each book is reviewed using the Miller test, “three legal tenants for us to look at no matter what our biases are. We can look at those three and if it fits the three then it can stay and if it doesn’t then we have to debate it.”