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Author reacts to novel's removal

Posted: July 8, 2011 2:35 p.m.
Updated: July 11, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Chris Crutcher says he is “shocked” a book he wrote was removed from school libraries in Kershaw County.

In an open letter to Kershaw County School District (KCSD) students published today, Crutcher said he was shocked that his novel, “Angry Management,” was removed not only from the district’s libraries, but the district’s summer reading list after receiving a complaint from one parent.

The district removed “Angry Management” from libraries and the reading list two weeks ago in response to Camden High School parent Douglas Berry’s concern about the number of expletives included in the book.

Crutcher said he first learned of the removal after receiving an email and a copy of the Chronicle-Independent’s June 29 issue with a story on the parent’s challenge of the book from a local librarian -- a move that prompted him to write today’s letter.

“My first reaction was, ‘Again?’” he said, adding that several of his books have been challenged in the past. “But my biggest reaction was that not much protocol was followed. One distressed parent made a complaint … it was just pretty dramatic.”

Berry declined to comment on Crutcher’s response Thursday.

“Angry Management” was only temporarily removed from the summer reading list, said KCSD Director for Communications Mary Anne Byrd. Byrd said a review committee will be formed and meet in the next 10 days. The school-level review committee will consist of a classroom teacher, an administrator and the school’s media specialist.

“As a school district, our responsibility is to balance concerns with free speech. For us, the bottom line is what is best and appropriate for our young people,” she said.

Additionally, Byrd said the school district has received positive feedback from the local community that has been supportive of its decision to remove the book from the summer reading list.

Crutcher said one of the misconceptions people have of his books is that he writes solely for shock value. Instead, he said, his fiction books are influenced by his experiences as a child and family therapist.

“There’s this idea that I talk about things that we shouldn’t talk about,” he said, adding that he writes about issues that young people face today. “I don’t have anything particular that I’m trying to get across, I’m trying to tell a good story. I’ve read letters and emails from kids saying ‘This book saved my life,’ or ‘This book showed me that I wasn’t alone. When I match these kids’ reactions to the complaints, then there’s no contest.”

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