But this banning is very personal to me because Hold Still is on the Gateway Reader's Award List for 2011-2012 and I was part of the committee that voted on that list. The Gateway booklist is compiled by Missouri Librarians for high school students to read. If students read four or more titles in the year, they can vote on the list and choose which book they think is the best book that year. The goals of the Gateway Award are simple:
- To encourage Missouri young adults in grades nine through twelve to select and read quality literature that appeals to their needs, interests and reading levels.
- To recognize and honor outstanding works in young adult literature.
- To develop a cooperative relationship among schools, libraries and teens.
- To encourage the development of school and public library services to teens.
I read Hold Still and felt that it deserved a place on the list. So did the other committee members, reader selectors and teens. In my review of Hold Still, I commented that
"Suicide books can be hard to get right-you don't want them too angsty and angry or too mushy and preachy and I think the author had a nice balance here....Overall this is a beautifully written book about healing and I really hope it makes the list."
One of the points of criteria for the Gateway Award is that "Books should be of literary value which may enrich teenagers' personal lives." Hold Still is a touching novel about grief, friendship, depression, and recovering from loss. Sadly, many teens have to deal with these issues and I found Hold Still to have a hope that it gets better and that you can get through depressing times in life, no matter how hard it may seem at the time.
Is every book on the list going to be for every reader? No. That's why the final list has 15 titles-to give teens a variety of books to choose from. The list is put together by a committee of professional librarians and then given to teen reader selectors for their input before the final list is made. Teens voted on Hold Still, as well as the other titles on the list, and chose what they felt were the books that should make up the final list of 15. I believe that Hold Still deserves a place on the list and I support Hold Still.
Update: The other eight titles they have flagged on the list are:
Fat Cat by Robin Brande
The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
King of the Screwups by K.L. Going
Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick
If I Grow Up by Todd Strasser
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Food, Girls and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff