Marcus probes not just what made these works controversial, but also the life paths that led the writers to pursue their subjects, and how they reacted to campaigns to muzzle their work—all of which are sure to interest their young fans, as well as students of free speech ... To read these writers sharing their reasons for broaching delicate topics is to realize that the fights over their books are fundamental struggles over how we are raising and educating new generations ... Marcus’s interviews spotlight what is at stake when books are challenged.
Each conversation is frank and utterly engrossing. Familiarity with the banned books discussed is not necessary to be absorbed in the discussions, which will certainly send readers to seek out the titles. Librarians and lovers of youth literature will feel like they are a part of conversations between old friends and gain new understanding into the value of their everyday work. Those studying censorship will find important primary sources and gain useful insight on how harmful censorship can be to young lives. Marcus also includes a concise, informative history of censorship and banned books in the United States ... This important work is highly recommended for all libraries serving teens and scholars.
... an informative and enlightening introduction ... Marcus has clearly done his homework, his questions and comments reflecting wide reading of each of his subject’s work. Their answers are unfailingly eloquent and insightful ... Marcus’ book is essential reading for all of those who treasure free speech.
All the authors are positioned as important, powerful voices attacked by conservative censors, and the title may leave readers with the belief that any and all objections are equally wrong. Not taken into account are the subjects of librarians’ weeding collections of titles that may contain offensive stereotypes or booksellers’ deciding whether to stock books criticized for representation seen as harmful. While the text is accessible to middle schoolers, the content may be more interesting for adults in education and the publishing industry, though it disappointingly lacks a fully balanced spectrum of views and sacrifices complexity for a uniform message. A calm, cohesive take on a hot-button issue.
Marcus’s 13 interviews with writers whose works have provoked controversy deliver more than the book’s title suggests ... Conversations exploring the writers’ childhoods and creative lives evolve gracefully into discussions of censorship experiences ... the collection does not cover why some may object to texts on reasonable grounds, such as detrimental portrayals of marginalized people. Still, this is a thoughtful examination of the barriers young people may face when seeking 'polemical' reading material, with high crossover appeal.