John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars has been banned by the Riverside Unified School District in California. Riverside Unified School District’s Book Reconsideration Committee chose to pull three copies of the book from the shelves of Frank Augustus Miller Middle School’s library shelves after they received complaints from parents regarding content of the book that they felt was inappropriate for middle school aged children, according to the L.A. Times.
The Fault in Our Stars was written for an older audience, being aimed at young adults and focuses on the intense romance of a teen couple who’s love affair is complicated by the existential realities of their own mortality as the young heroine battles stage 4 cancer. The novel contains a large amount of crude language and sexual references and themes through out the book which concerned parents and those on the committee and is what motivated the six to one decision to remove Green’s novel.
The decision also bans The Fault in Our Stars from all middle schools in the Riverside Unified School District. The decision does not, however, affect the high schools in the district where copies of The Fault in Our Stars will still be available to older students, which is the novel’s targeted audience.
When asked by a fan for his response to the book’s ban, The Fault in Our Stars author John Green had this rather callous response on his Tumblr page:
“I guess I am both happy and sad.”
“I am happy because apparently young people in Riverside, California will never witness or experience mortality since they won’t be reading my book, which is great for them.”
“But I am also sad because I was really hoping I would be able to introduce the idea that human beings die to the children of Riverside, California and thereby crush their dreams of immortality.”
The Fault in Our Stars has met with critical success and was adapted into a film version directed by Josh Boone and starring Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff. It was released on Blu-Ray and DVD just a few weeks ago and the Motion Picture Association of America also felt that the content may not be appropriate for younger viewers, giving the film version of The Fault in Our Stars a PG-13 rating which may support the school district’s position.
In book form, The Fault in Our Stars met with critical acclaim for its heart breaking portrayal of the star crossed lovers and the realities of adolescent cancer. Green’s novel made the New York Times Best Seller List and this success continued as The Fault in Our Stars hit the theaters, grossing over $266 million world wide.
But beyond the commercial success and current controversy, is the real story of Esther Earl who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 12. She would lose her battle before making it to her 16th birthday and died in 2010. This brave young lady’s battle was John Green’s inspiration for The Fault in Our Stars and her story continues to inspire millions of young people and their families.