Ted Dawe’s YA novel Into the River has been banned from the entire country of New Zealand and is being pulled from libraries, schools, and bookstores in response to a complaint from a Christian group.
A prequel to Dawe’s Thunder Road, Into the River follows Te Arepa Santos, who survives a brush with the spirit world but finds himself in danger again years later. Away from his ancestral lands, nobody can save him but himself. It won the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award in 2013.
New Zealand’s Film and Literature Board of Review banned the book after the Christian group Family First complained about its “sexually explicit content, drug use and the use of a slang term for female genitalia,” according to the Guardian.
Fees for distributing or exhibiting Into the River can reach up to ten thousand dollars. There is no fee for owning a personal copy of the book, but sharing it among friends can be considered distribution and warrant a fine.
Patrick Ness best summed up the situation in seven words:
If we ban YA books with challenging subject material we’re telling teens that the challenging aspects of their lives should stay silent.
— Adele Walsh (@snarkywench)