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Book Review: Ban This Book – Alan Gratz

Guys, I have found a new love: it’s middle grade books!!! If there’s ever been a case where you should ignore the suggested reading age for a book, it’s Ban This Book by Alan Gratz! I knew when I read the back cover that I would love this, especially because it is about the main character’s love for books and reading, and boy was I right. 

The main character is a somewhat shy and reticent fourth-grader, Amy Anne. She loves books and spends every free minute in her school library. At home, Amy doesn’t really have much space to herself: her loud and outspoken little sisters Alexis and Angelina take up every little room there is in their small home. One day, Amy Anne wants to check out her favorite book from the library, only to find that it is not there. But no, it hasn’t been checked out by anybody else – the librarian informs Amy that the book has been banned! And it is not the only one! Amy is shocked. How can anybody other than her parents decide what children should read and what not? Amy decides for once to take action. She creates her own little library – the library of banned books – in her locker. But soon before long, it is not just a few friends who read her books, but almost the whole school, and Amy gets caught. It is then when she truly finds her voice, and together with her friends she is determined to find a way to get all the books back into the school library, even if it is in the most unusual way possible… 

I love this book because of so many reasons. I could sympathise with Amy Anne so well – I, too, have always felt most comfortable surrounded by books. Furthermore, I see a lot of my shy self in Amy, and I love how fighting for her beloved books has made her find her voice and stand up against other people, especially adults, too. She is never rude or disrespectful in her pursuit though, which is another thing I appreciate a lot. And it is not just that: In their home, Amy has always seemed to receive less attention from her parents than her little sisters. Not only are they much louder and more direct than Amy, they stand up for what they want (which is horses and ballet), and their hobbies have taken up a lot of room in their home, both literally as well as metaphorically. Their parents tend to ‘forget’ Amy a lot, especially because she is so much quieter than her younger sisters. But this, too, changes when Amy decides to speak up and fight for her cause. 

Another thing I love about this story is that it shows how adults can be wrong too, and that not everything they randomly decide and say is right and should necessarily be followed without questioning. So, it takes Amy and the other children their common sense and sense of justice to fight for a good cause. 

In the beginning of the book, it is stated that Amy has one best friend, Rebecca, who is pretty much the opposite of her: She wants to become an attorney and is loud and determined. However, the more the story unfolds, the more friends Amy finds, which I love. In the end, she even finds friends in those she never expected… 

So it can truly be stated that this book is about so many topics: censorship, the question of right and wrong, friendship, family, fighting for what one truly loves and the importance of finding one’s own voice. I also love how it portrays the job of a librarian in such a positive light, not boring or monotonous, but rather as something admirable and exciting. The story is so much deeper than I would have expected from a book in which the main character is merely nine years old, and I love that it teaches both children as well as adults many important lessons! I definitely recommend it to every book lover out there – old and young – read it, you won’t be disappointed!

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