Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When logic trumps censorship


I know this blog has remained dormant for quite some time. I know. But, when I was in need of a place to share a personal story, this blog called my name, like an old friend, "You can post it here, Kate." And so I shall.

This is a true story of an attempted censorship of CRACKED by a school in Montreal and how a determined teacher was the catalyst for logic. I will let the emails* tell the story....

*Emails shared with permission

Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2015 9:31 PM
To: kmwalton1@verizon.net
Subject: Cracked

I am writing to you as a high school teacher.  We have been using your novel "Cracked" for at least 3 years. The students love it and they engage in reading it.  However, the administration has decided that your book is not appropriate and want to ban it it from our high school. We, the teachers, feel that your novel touches the hearts of or grade 10 students, They love to read it.  The psychologists at our high school claim it causes suicidal thoughts. We, the English teachers think the opposite.  If you have anything, as an author to say, it would be greatly appreciated.  The administration is banning your book!

[name withheld]
[name of school withheld]
Montreal, Quebec

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 On 22 May 2015 at 09:44, Kate Walton <kmwalton1@verizon.net> wrote:

Dear ________,

This saddens me so. I’m assuming that the psychologists and administration have not read CRACKED and that they’re jumping to odd conclusions. If they have read it and still think it promotes suicide, well, I have no words. Also, instead of me speaking on this I thought it more powerful to share what countless teen (and adult) readers have emailed me. The word doc is attached. Feel free to share it with decision makers.

Sincerely hoping logic and love win in the end.

~ Kate Walton
K.M.Walton
CRACKED  Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster NOW on Audible.com
EMPTY Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster NOW on Audible.com
TEACHING NUMERACY: 9 Critical Habits to Ignite Mathematical Thinking (co-author)  Corwin Press 

BELOW IS THE CONTENTS OF THE WORD DOC THAT I ATTACHED:
 
READER RESPONSES TO CRACKED

2/4/12
My name's Lisa, I'm a 17 year old girl from Toronto, Canada and I just finished reading your book cracked at 3:52 a.m. Once I started I couldn't stop, every line captured my attention and made me want to read more of it. I loved everything about it, and especially being a teenager in high school it's relatable and inspiring. I've never been emotional reading any book but when I came upon the stories of both Victor and Bull my heart dropped and my eyes got teary. Your book was touching and I'm really glad you shared your words with everyone. I just wanted to stop by and let you know that you're an incredible author and what you write matters.

2/24/12
I recently finished reading your book Cracked and it was amazing. I found it hard to put down, I found the characters and plot very intriguing. I also somewhat related to the book on a personal level. Although I don't come from a family where I was unloved (I would argue that my parents are too nice to me at times), I do know how it feels to be ignored at school. At the beginning of high school, I had an excellent circle of friends. We all accepted/supported each other and hung out quite frequently. Then, my best friend from the group moved away and the group fell apart. All the others in the group joined new groups and I was torn. I hung out with this one group at lunch hour for a while but they ignored me and called me "weird" because I like different things than most teenagers (I love classical music and I want to pursue a career in music) They would make plans to hang out while I was sitting there, like I wasn't there. I remember just going home after lunch that day, skipping my afternoon classes and spending the whole afternoon crying in my room. This year in high school (my last year) I took a spare block right before lunch so I could go home for lunch every day and not have to deal with sitting by people that ignore me or don't know me well. No, I've never attempted suicide, but I have thought about it. I could never do something like that to myself, I have so much going for me in my life and I know that university will be a much more supporting environment as I will be surrounded by other musicians my age all the time. Anyways, how does this relate to your book? Well, as I was reading the book, I couldn't help but compare it to myself. It opened my eyes as well; I am actually very lucky to have the opportunity to take music lessons and pursue something I love in university and some parents don't even care about their children. It almost made me feel selfish for feeling like my life sucked at some points. I have a wonderful support system within my family and friends in music. My social issues at high school will seem trivial as I go through university and pursue what I love. No matter how bad you think your life is, there's always someone who would love to have your life. Anyways, thank you for writing this book! It was amazing and I will be looking forward to more eye-opening and inspiring books from you in the future! –Geena

12/9/12
Well like I said I’m a reader. This book really relates to me. My name is Christina I live in New Jersey. I’m nineteen. I have thought of killing myself over stuff. My mother kicked me out when I turn 18. She hates me. She spreads rumors about me. I write poetry and I’m planning on writing a book. You have inspired me, thank you. I love your book CRACKED. I’m always alone, invisible. Thank you. This book kinda showed me that suicide isn’t always the answer, that even rich kids have those thoughts.

1/14/13
I have just finished reading Cracked. Wow. I am absolutely speechless. It was without a single doubt, the best book I have ever read in my life. I really felt such a connection with Bull and Victor--Heck, I felt connected with Nikole, Lacey, Kell, Brian, Frank and Ellie, too. I just wanted to thank you for being such an amazing and talented author. Thank you for creating a whole other world for me to sink into when I read. I've promoted Cracked and you as an author on Facebook, Twitter, and to all of my friends. Realistically, the entire population of my high school knows about you because of me. And I won't let them borrow my copy for two reasons: 1) I open a random chapter every day and just sink into the beauty of the book--There's no way I could be deprived of my beautiful "world". 2) I want them to go and BUY it. For your sake. You deserve the biggest success from this book. I encourage you with every fiber of my being to keep writing. You're one of the rare good authors. You write beautifully, you can actually keep the attention of your readers. Thank you so much for everything. Sincerely, your #1 fan. Much love.

2/16/13
My name is Mike.  I'm a 33-year-old aspiring writer.  I picked up your book, "Cracked", three days ago, and just finished reading it.  I was so touched by your novel, that, for the first time, I wanted to write the author personally and say thank you.

I've struggled with bullying since I was young, and, in many ways, found myself feeling like Victor.  I had a few friends, but I often felt invisible.  My parents, while not anywhere near the extremes of Victor's parents, held such high expectations of me that I rarely felt like I lived up to them.

I had a time, early in high school, where I came close to attempting suicide.  Fortunately, my faith, or more correctly, my fear of eternity in hell, kept me from going through with the attempt.

I still have a lot of pain from my teenage years, and I felt much of this pain come back through your novel.  However, reading through the book, and seeing how Victor and William work through their issues, helped me to see some of the darker days of my life in a new way... a better way.

I think I'll probably read this book at least once or twice more, because your ability to portray hope in the midst of hopelessness truly gives me hope in my own future.

Again, thank you so much for this book! 
  
5/6/13
First and for most, I want to sincerely thank you for inspiring me. Cracked is an excellent and inspiring book. In grade school I was a 'Victor'. I was bullied. Also, from the outside looking in it may have seemed like I had it all together, even though I didn't. Please, please continue writing. You may not know it, but you're inspiring teenagers. Your writing matters. Sincerely, Paige

5/20/13
Oh. My. Gosh. I love your book CRACKED. I JUST now finished it and I don't think I'll be able to go to bed until I make sure that you know how amazing it is. Not that I know how to express it. You made a difference. In my life. Right now. Thank you, I owe you big time. –Adelina

8/4/13
I just wanted to tell you that I just finished cracked and I really enjoyed it. I was bullied a lot as a child up through middle school, and this book was pretty close to what often times happens. I have a friend who is in a similar situation at home to Victor. I recommended the book to him and he says he will read it when he gets home from Canada. Thank you for giving me something great to read!  -Shawn

10/26/13
My name's Jennifer, 14 and I'm from Canada. I really loved your book, Cracked. It really spoke to me and I thought it was written really well. Anyways, I really hope to meet you one day- you're a big inspiration to me and your books: Cracked and Empty, made me escape reality for a long time and I loved that.
It gave me the strength and hope that maybe I could overcome some of my problems too. I didn't feel alone.

11/14/13
I am reading your book Cracked and from a person who has been to mental hospitals, I can't thank you enough. I am trying to become a teacher and you are my inspiration. –Nikki

11/25/13
I just wanted to let you know that your books are more than amazing and that you are my favorite author!!!! I literally would sit and read your books Cracked and Empty over and over again for hours on end. When I was reading your book Cracked I would have to make myself put the book down so I would let the suspense build up and so that I can enjoy my first time reading the book longer. Your books made me cry, scream, and jump up and down. You capture the reality of being a teenager so well, that it is unexplainable. I love that you're not afraid to just say the truth and how honest you are with. That quality in your books, I think, sets you apart from all the other authors out there. –Emily

1/19/14
Hey my name is Michelle. I am a thirteen year old living in Saskatoon, Canada. Your book Cracked really relates to me. I see myself in Bull and in Victor. You did an amazing job bringing new light to bullying. It was beautifully written, I could only hope to write anything just as close to perfect as Cracked. I've read your book three times and I own my own copy. I am planning on making a trailer to the book with my friends. I am an aspiring writer and poet, and I look up to writers like you.

7/1/14
My name is Cheyenne and I am a big fan of your novel, Cracked. Your book taught me a few things; it taught me that bullying can have a negative impact on people and it also helped me realize that I am not alone in the world and that other people deal with depression also.

8/24/14
Emailing authors is not something I usually do. I bought “Cracked” because you are scheduled to be at Town Book Center in Collegeville in October and it looked like a good book to give to my daughter-in-law, and with her OK, to my 12 and 14 year old grandsons Ben and Max for Christmas. To be honest I didn’t especially want to read the book but thought to be part of the October book discussion it would be a good idea to know what the book is about. Wow! I started “Cracked” this morning and just finished that and many tissues! What a wonderful story! Thank you! We have all had adversity in our lives - we all make the journey in diverse ways - but those who have no one to touch them, to love them are the ones who need good words like you as a gifted writer were able to share in “Cracked.” –Jill

4/7/15
I am a senior at American Canyon high school in American Canyon, CA (near Napa) and I am a HUGE fan of your book Cracked. I read your book when I was a sophomore and at the time I was really depressed. I walked into a bookstore with my mother and the cover of your book really drew me in. Since I had been thinking about suicide for about two months, it spoke to me. I constantly tell people good things about your book and have gotten three people so far to read it. I love the perspective it gives me and I love how it helps others not feel alone. My boyfriend struggles with anxiety and depression and has a lot of family issues, so I recommended the book because I felt like he connected with both Bull and Victor. He told me it helped him and I knew it would because it truly helped me. I also wanted to tell you I got my teacher to read the book and she loves it so far! I love spreading the word of your work. Thank you for writing such an amazing book that helped me through really tough times. It meant a lot to have Bull and Victor there, even though they were fictional characters. Much love, Angel

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Sent: Friday, May 22, 2015 10:00 AM
To: Kate Walton
Subject: Re: Cracked

Thanks so much for your reply!!  No, the psychologists have not read the book as they only speak French.  It is extremely sad.  I will pass on this document to all people involved.  I have the same students two years in a row and many of them (particularly the boys) do not enjoy reading. Those (boys) finish your novel way before the due date.  Honestly, I have been teaching for 18 years and your novel is the only that I have never had negative feedback from the students!

Thanks so much!

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Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2015 1:20 PM
To: Kate Walton
Subject: Re: Cracked

Good morning.

They are keeping your novel!

One of my students' projects is to create a movie trailer for the new movie Cracked.  Here is a link if you would like to see some.  Also, please understand that my students' first language is French. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2zxpgODIcY&list=PLZY5pd-1aqwhjh3i3uiXJH-sD6DmMhiiE&index=5

Thanks again for everything.

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In closing I'd like to commend this wonderful teacher for alerting me, her amazing students for being steadfast fans, and ultimately the school psychologists and administration for their logical decision.