A group of parents of students in Guilford County Schools – and other concerned citizens – are calling attention to one of the books on a reading list for AP English students and demanding that it be removed from the list.
The parents claim that the book, “Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward, “promotes” sexual relations between a 19-year-old boy and a girl 14 years old or younger. They also state that the book “promotes that sex with a minor is OK” and they liken parts of it to “child porn.”
A text message call-to-action making the rounds to parents requested that those opposed to the book come to a library committee meeting at Northern Guilford High School on Thursday morning, May 12, to “speak or just make an appearance for support to throw out the book.”
That message added, “We need bodies there to support getting this book out of the schools. Get your friends to fill the library – the only way to defeat this is in numbers!!!”
Summerfield Town Councilmember Lynne DeVaney, who’s an elementary school teacher in the Guilford County school system, said the book was called to her attention this week and she was appalled when she read excerpts.
She said that, though students have other options they could read instead of the book, the practical effect of it being on the suggested reading list means teachers have prepared materials and tests for it and many students will feel compelled to read it.
DeVaney also said that the Thursday morning library committee meeting was canceled, but now opponents of the book are asking local and state elected leaders to take action.
DeVaney said she was particularly alarmed by a descriptive scene in the book where a very young girl is describing a sexual encounter.
That section reads, “Manny touched me first where he always touched me: my ass. He grabbed and pulled and my shorts slid down … He was peeling my clothes away like an orange rind …”
Some of the remainder of that passage is too graphic to be quoted here.
DeVaney said she was extremely concerned after she read parts of the book.
Ward is a two-time National Book Award winner – and one of those awards is for “Salvage the Bones.”
A description of the book on the Amazon website states that Ward “delivers a gritty but tender novel about family and poverty in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina.”