In April, a Mat-Su Valley School District-wide library committee was formed to review a list of book titles deemed inappropriate by Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District parents, staff, and community members. The committee has a list of 56 books they have challenged; committee members will read 3-5 books each month. The committee will make recommendations for each book on whether to retain, restrict, or remove the book from library shelves. Those recommendations will be passed on to the board on a rolling basis throughout the school year. See the book review outcomes here.  

Banned Books Week is October 1-7; to mark this event, our staff have given their book recommendations from the list the Mat-Su District library committee is reviewing. Check them out below.  

Perks of being a wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky 

Recommended by Melody, Staff Attorney and Moira, Advocacy Manager 

Set in the early 1990s, the novel follows Charlie, an introverted and observant child, through his freshman year of high school in a Pittsburgh suburb. The novel details Charlie's unconventional style of thinking as he navigates between the worlds of adolescence and adulthood, and attempts to deal with poignant questions spurred by his interactions with both his friends and family. 


Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi 


Recommended by Susan, Staff Attorney 

Homegoing is the debut historical fiction novel by Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi, published in 2016. Each chapter in the novel follows a different descendant of an Asante woman named Maame, starting with her two daughters, who are half-sisters, separated by circumstance: Effia marries James Collins, the British governor in charge of Cape Coast Castle, while her half-sister Esi is held captive in the dungeons below. Subsequent chapters follow their children and following generations. 


The Bluest Eye
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison 

Recommended by Jackie, Prison Investigator 

The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison. The novel takes place in Lorain, Ohio (Morrison's hometown), and tells the story of a young African-American girl named Pecola who grew up following the Great Depression. Set in 1941, the story is about how she is consistently regarded as "ugly" due to her mannerisms and dark skin. As a result, she develops an inferiority complex, which fuels her desire for the blue eyes she equates with "whiteness."


Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Malinda Lo 

Late Night at the Telephone Club

Recommended by Nithya, Queer and Trans Justice Program Manager  

It's 1954 San Francisco, and 17-year-old Lily Hu is the epitome of a "good Chinese girl": She's modest, respectful of her parents, and her most outlandish interest is rocket science. Then she finds a magazine ad for Tommy Andrews, a male impersonator at the Telegraph Club, and everything changes. She befriends classmate Kathleen Miller, who's into airplanes and knows about the Telegraph Club too, and all of her unspoken feelings begin tumbling out. The pair sneak out to the club, and Lily is overwhelmed and thrilled as she is enveloped by the San Francisco lesbian scene. But the girls' secret is dangerous; it threatens Lily's oldest friendships and even her father's citizenship status. Eventually, Lily must decide if owning her truth is worth everything she's ever known.   


Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi 

Recommended by Laura, Director of Strategic Development 

Persepolis is an autobiographical series of bandes dessinées (French comics) by Marjane Satrapi that depict her childhood up to her early adult years in Iran and Austria during and after the Islamic Revolution. 



The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood 

Handmaids Tale

Recommended by Ruth, Legal Director, and Tuan, Donor Relations Manager 

After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression. 


Slaughterhause Five
Slaughterhouse-five, Kurt Vonnegut 

Recommended by Megan, Prison Project Director 

Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel results from what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.” 


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Recommended by Mara, Executive Director 

The book's narrator is a nine-year-old boy named Oskar Schell. In the story, Oskar discovers a key in a vase that belonged to his father, a year after he is killed in the September 11 attacks. The discovery inspires Oskar to search all around New York for information about the key and closure following his father's death. 



l8r g8r
L8r, g8r, Lauren Myracle 

Recommended by Meghan, Communications Director 

L8R, G8R is third in the series by Lauren Myracle. BFFs Angela, Zoe, and Maddie, in their senior year of high school, work out problems, share secrets, become angry, apologize, cry, and more -- all through texting, IMs, and chat rooms.


For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has fought to make sure Americans have the right to read what they want. There continue to be misguided attempts to ban books. The ACLU of Alaska emphasizes Banned Books Week, an annual event that celebrates the freedom to read and calls attention to the wealth of creative expression that is stifled when books can be forbidden from library shelves.  

Join the ACLU of Alaska, Out North, and the Alaska Bookmobile for the fourth annual unAUTHORized series - a project highlighting banned and challenged books. On October 4th from 3-7 pm at Black Birch Books in Wasilla, we will co-host a pop-up live read-out event. Hop on board the Banned Bookmobile and exercise the freedom to read by recording a passage from your favorite banned or challenged book,  and take a free book home with you. Recordings will be played over the radio on KONR-LP 106.1 FM (Out North Radio) and other local stations!  Learn more about other pop-ups in Southcentral Alaska here.  

Find these books at your local public libraries or at local bookstores supporting Banned Books Week. 

Black Birch Books (Wasilla)

Writers Block (Anchorage)

Fireside Books (Palmer)