Brady Kissel, a 17-year-old Idaho high school student, was giving away free books at a previously announced free book giveaway in Meridian on Wednesday, but this activity apparently did not sit well with someone. The next thing Brady Kissel knew, the police showed up to see exactly what was going on with this free-books-giving-away activity.
Fortunately, the Meridian police exercised significantly more common sense than whoever called them on Kissel. They questioned her briefly, then determined that giving away free books at a free book giveaway did not violate any laws that they could think of.
So what about giving away free books provoked someone to call the cops on Brady Kissel? To figure that out, we have to look at what the book she was giving away actually was. The title of the book was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Seattle-based Native American author Sherman Alexie. Over the past several years, the book — written as a young-adult novel aimed at teens — has been one of the most widely banned books in the United States.
Some parents in New York even recently branded Sherman Alexie’s book, 50 Shades of Grey For Kids. But the fact is, the novel which is Alexie’s semi-autobiographical account of growing up in poverty on a reservation, has nothing whatsoever in common with the “mommy porn” bestseller.
The book, however does contain a few examples of profanity and the apparently controversial line, “If God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs,” along with a few other brief references to that topic.
The Merdian school board recently voted to pull the Sherman Alexie novel from the school’s 10th grade curriculum, though it does remain on the shelves of the Junior Mountain View High School library.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian won the National Book Award for young adult literature as well as an American Library Association award, and has been reviewed glowingly in The New York Times.
After Meridian banned the book, Brady Kissel along with a high school teacher and librarian put together a crowdfunding effort to buy 350 copies of the book from a local bookstore. Those were the copies the student was giving away free in Meridian’s Kleiner Park as part of World Book Day Wednesday.
But according to what police told Brady Kissel, someone called them because they thought a child might get his or her hands on the book without parental permission.
Dozens of students picked up the book anyway.
“I didn’t find it offensive at all, in fact there’s a lot more raunchy stuff that kids look up online. This is really nothing,” said one, high school junior Mindy Hackler.
Another, 17-year-old Brandon McKinley took his free book and dug in right away.
“It’s actually a really good book so far,” he said.