Romance Novel Banned In Middle School Libraries

November 20, 1991|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff writer

One of the three books targeted in parent complaints last month willbe removed from county middle school library shelves.

Joan M. Palmer, associate superintendent for curriculum and supervision, said ina statement Tuesday that she will order the teen romance "Family Secrets," by Norma Klein, removed from middle school libraries. The bookwill remain available in high school libraries.

The other books, which each drew one parental complaint, "Witches' Children: A Story of Salem," by Patricia Clapp, and teen romance "Sweet Sixteen and Never . . .," by Jeanne Betancourt, will remain in middle school libraries.

Palmer's decisions upheld the recommendations of a 14-member review committee of parents, teachers and high school students, which met privately Monday to consider the books. The statement reported that committee members voted unanimously to retain "Witches' Children," 9-4 to retain "Sweet Sixteen," and 10-3 to ban "Family Secrets" from middle schools.

A recommendation to remove a book "is always troublesome," the statement said. "The issue of censorship is always present."

Palmer said she agreed with the committee's conclusion that sexual encounters and drug use described in "Family Secrets" were "too much, too soon for the understanding of middle school students."

She said the book was on the shelves in only twomiddle school libraries in the county, and was probably ordered because the author has written a number of books for both middle and highschool students

The book was challenged by Norman and Donita Zundel of Elkridge, parents of a Mayfield Woods Middle School student. The parents said they found "Family Secrets" objectionable because of "constant references to the sex act" and "inappropriate, foul languageand concepts."

The book is about Leslie and Peter, longtime friends who become sexual partners at age 17. When Leslie's mother and Peter's father, who have been involved in an extramarital affair, divorce their spouses to marry each other, Leslie and Peter become stepsister and stepbrother.

The Zundels cited numerous examples of material they found objectionable, including a blurb inside the front cover where Peter muses over his surprise that Leslie did not resist their first sexual encounter, but encouraged him.

Palmer's statement noted that reviews of "Family Secrets" in three library journals listed the book variously as appropriate for junior high school, grade 8 andup, and high school.

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