Sunday, January 22, 2006
Koja, Kathe. 2005. TALK. NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374373825 [Suggested Grade Levels: 8-12]
When Carma dares her best friend Kit, a gay closeted high school senior who feels as if he has been acting his whole life, to try out for a part in the school play, Kit wins the lead roll. Playing opposite him is Lindsey, self-absorbed president of the drama club, who “almost” falls in love with Kit because he is the opposite of her current boyfriend. Kit, on the other hand, has long been in love with Pablo who does not know Kit exists. After Lindsey breaks up with her boyfriend Blake, Blake’s mother challenges the play on the basis that the play with its prison riot, torture, and message of free speech, is too mature for them. When the principal agrees and bans the play, the director and crew decide to perform it anyway at the community center. During a rally for the play, Blake takes his revenge by destroying Kit’s locker and writing “Fag, fag, fag” on everything Kit has in it. By the end, Kit is with Jef, a member of the stage crew, Lindsey refuses to speak to Kit for fooling her, and the play is a success and on its way to competition.
Told by Kit and Lindsey in alternating chapters and interspersed with scenes from the play, TALK makes a powerful statement for being true to oneself and refusing to live a masked existence out of fear. The characters of Kit and Lindsey stand in opposition to each other: Kit in quiet honesty, but Lindsey denying Kit’s truth because it does not fit her needs and desires. The language is strong and uncomfortable at times, but important in delineating the characters.
Readers should be offered TALK as optional reading during Banned Books Week. In addition, current accounts of attempted challenges and censorship within schools can be used as parallel readings.
Other books about censorship:
Bradbury, Ray. FAHRENHEIT 451. ISBN 0345342968
Hentoff, Nat. THE DAY THEY CAME TO ARREST THE BOOK. ISBN 0385282184
By Terri Moore