I'm proud of the fact that my father spent the last twenty years of his life sober, and that--through the grace of God--he and I repaired the very bitter divide that separated us for half my life. We had nearly two decades of a loving and supportive relationship before he died.
Having said all that, my childhood was the stuff of nightmares. I knew very early on that I was all alone. My mother had her hands full with paying the bills, raising four kids and keeping the family secrets.
The only safe place I knew was between the two covers of a book. I found peace in reading. Many years later, a therapist told me my real parents were on my bookshelf.
By age nine, I'd built a little library in my bedroom at the rate of two books a month (the limits set by my allowance). After my father destroyed my books, three librarians saved my sanity by recognizing the needs of the spooky little kid slipping in and out of their doors. They made two libraries--one at school and the other in town--my refuge.
I'm dredging all of this up today because of a post I read on the fabulous Janet Reid's blog. Janet said:
I think it's incredibly important that books for teenagers about horrible subjects--rape, incest, school shootings, death-- get published. And even more important that those books are available in libraries so kids can read them even if they can't afford to buy them, or don't want anyone to know they are reading them.I'm here to say that is not an academic statement to me. It's where I lived.
I understand the desire of Christian parents to protect their children. But there are children out there whom child advocate Andrew Vachss calls "Children of the Secret" who don't have anyone to protect them. Those kids need to be able to find the books that help them work through their pain.
It can be unbearably lonely to think that you are the only person going through what you are experiencing. Books can introduce you to others, books can allow you to vent your fear and anger, BOOKS CAN HELP YOU FEEL NORMAL.
Even if what you are experiencing is far from the norm.
Saturday begins Banned Book Week. Please read the following posts. After you do so, I hope you'll decide to do what you can to help the Children of the Secret:
Start with Janet Reid here.
Let her take you to Myra McEntire here.
Myra will lead you to Veronica Roth here.
And don't forget C.J. Redwine here.
If you want to speak loudly, write a blog post.
If you don't have a blog, go to the Twitter thread at #SpeakLoudly.
If you don't have a Twitter account, add your voice to the comments here.
Never forget what Edmund Burke said: "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."
And make no mistake. Good, well-meaning Christians can do evil in the name of the Lord.