The Chocolate Wars by Robert Cormier (Banned Book Review and a CHOCOLATE GIVEAWAY!)
Do I dare disturb the universe?
Jerry Renault ponders this question from the Private Catholic School he newly attends. Each year the school partakes in a chocolate sale which help funds programming. While the sale is said to be optional for students to participate in , they are strongly, STRONGLY encouraged to do so.This year the students are encouraged to sell double what they did last year, and the cost has doubled as well.
A group of bad-boy “secret society” types called the Vigils find Jerry to be a target for their latest prank and tell him that he is not to sell the chocolates for the first 11 days. Each week as the students are tallied for the number of boxes they have sold, Jerry announces he has sold none. The head master is furious much to the Vigils delight, but after day eleven, Jerry decides to take a stand and not sell the chocolates as all, thus making the head of the Vigils a laughing stock amongst his peers, and this does not go over well. Jerry’s stand turns into a war witht he Vigils, with some of the students, and with the school.
As Jerry’s fellow students admire Jerry for his courage, the headmaster as well as the head of the Vigils have other plans for making Jerry comply…
Why did I want to read this book? It is a banned book and looked like one I wanted to give a try to.
Wowza. Can say we have a winner? The Chocolate War is the portrayal of a dystopian type world where you just need to fall in line with what you are told to do… (think Pink Floyd, The Wall video). When Jerry comes on the scene and at first is bullied into not selling the chocolates like everyone else and then decided to not sell at all.. things get pretty crazy in this book.
Bullying is a strong theme throughout the book, and not just the physical kind – and not just from the students…. really the book is powerful and sad but really made an impact on me. I am so glad I read it.
The audio is a 5 1/2 hours and was perfect with my current crazy schedule. Narrated by Frank Muller the book read well and kept me engaged. Recommended!
Why Was The Chocolate War Banned?
Challenged and/or banned for nudity, offensive language, being sexually explicit and unsuited for age group.
Initially removed from Harford County (MD) High School curriculum due to vulgar language overshadowing anti-bullying message, but in November 2007, the school superintendent reversed the ban to allow the use of the book in classes dealing with harassment for which all parents have signed permission slips. Challenged as optional reading in a bullying unit at the Lake Oswego (OR) Junior High School because the novel is “peppered with profanities, ranging from derogatory slang terms to sexual encounters and violence.” Challenged in the Coeur d’Alene (ID) School district where parents say the book, along with 5 other, should require parental permission for students to read them. Challenged as required reading for 7th-grade students at the John H. Kinzie Elementary School in Chicago (IL). Challenged at the Northridge School District in Johnstown (OH) because “if these books were a movie, they would be rated R, why should we encourage them to read these books.”
Challenged, but retained in the West Hartford (CN) schools. Parents of a King Philip Middle School eighth grader thought the language, sexual content, and violence made the book PG-13. Challenged in the Wake County (NC) schools because the book has “vulgar and sexually explicit language.” Parents are getting help from Called2Action, a Christian group that says its mission is to “promote and defend our shared family and social values.”
Challenged for sexual content and offensive language.
Challenged for sexual content, offensive language, religious viewpoint, being unsuited to age group and violence.
Challenged in Fairfax (VA) school libraries by a group called Parents Against Bad Books in Schools for “profanity and descriptions of drug abuse, sexually explicit conduct and torture”.
Challenged for profanity, scenes of masturbation and sexual fantasy along with segments denigrating to girls.
Challenged in York County (VA) for sexually explicit language. Retained as optional reading for eighth graders in Girard (PA) despite a grandmother finding the book offensive and not wanting her grand-daughter reading it. Challenged for being on the eighth grade reading list of Lancaster (MA) school district for language and content. Challenged at a Lisbon (OH) board of education meeting as a “pornographic” book that should be removed from high school English classes.
My friend Florinda at The 3 T’s Blog also wrote a post on the Chocolate Wars today (book version) and we thought it would be fun to a little “sweetness” to our reviews. I will be giving away Ghiradelli chocolates to one of the lucky commenters using both out blog posts to enter. Just leave a comment on either my or Florindas post for an entry – comment on both and you will get three entries because math… is not my strength .