Materials supplied by the Mat-Su Borough School District describe the five books that the school board voted to remove from upper-level English elective classes, and the challenges against them:
• “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (1969) by Maya Angelou. An autobiography that details Angelou’s sexual abuse as an 8-year-old and how strength of character and love of literature helped her overcome racism and trauma. It was challenged for sexually explicit material and “anti-white” messaging.
• “The Great Gatsby” (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Considered one of the great American novels, this work catalogues a summer of 1922 spent by a Yale graduate on Long Island and describes “the excess of the Roaring Twenties, the crime associated with prohibition, and unrequited love.” It was challenged for language and sexual references.
• “Invisible Man” (1952) by Ralph Ellison. A complex National Book of Fiction winner that centers on a narrator who is a nameless young black man and addresses racism as well as personal identity and the anonymity of modern life. It was challenged for language, rape and incest.
• “Catch-22” (1961) by Joseph Heller. A satirical description of World War II that follows an “anti-hero” bombardier as he maintains “sanity in crazy times.” It was challenged for racial slurs, misogyny and racist attitudes, and violence of war and against women.
• “The Things They Carried” (1980) by Tim O’Brien. A collection of short stories about the Vietnam War that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and considered by some to be the best literary work of its kind. It was challenged for profanity and sexual references.
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