book banning begins at home

Today’s banned books story involves my mother.

Was she a crusader for free speech and the right for all men and women to express their vision?


A movie came out when I was 11, called Marooned. It’s about astronauts who have a malfunction aboard their space capsule, and the race to get them home. (Apollo 13, anyone? But that was a few years later.) I bought the book, but Mom wouldn’t let me read it until she read it first.

She blacked out several pages.

I have no idea what she covered up.

I also have no idea what else was in the book, because she killed any desire I had to read it.

A few years later, I bought the book, Deliverance. Well, she snatched that puppy out of my hands before I could get through the living room. I was 14.

She read it.

When she tossed it back to me, about half the book was blackened. Whole pages were ripped out.


Haven’t ever read that one either.

Maybe I didn’t miss much, and maybe I wouldn’t care for my own 11 and 14-year old kids to read those books. I don’t know for sure, because I’ve never had the stomach to go back and see for myself.

When my kids have wanted to read books I wasn’t thrilled with, I read them first, too.

But then I handed them back, and said, “Tell me when you get to page 89. I want to talk to you about that.”

And we talked.

I don’t really blame Mom for what she did. She had a World War II moral sensibility, trying to raise a teenager in the 1970s. Must have been pretty scary. But censorship closes you off. Skews your insight.

It keeps your world small.


About Lisha Cauthen

Lisha Cauthen writes YA novels for guys that girls like to read too.

Posted on September 28, 2010, in end of western civilisation as we know it and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Yea, for your reasonable method!

  2. Well, we’ll see how they all turn out. I ain’t done raisin’ ’em yet.

  3. Not sure how old I was,(14? 15?) but mom let me read some of her J. A. Jance. I think she wasn’t real thrilled with the one I picked to read, Hour of the Hunter, but she let me read it. It’s got some pretty icky/graphic stuff in it…but no blacked out pages for me! I’m glad I have a good mom that way. There have been a few books that I’ve asked my kids to wait till they are a wee bit older, but then again, Aidan is constantly bringing home books that are “not at his level”…I’m all for letting him try. Reading beyond your “level” makes for growing in my opinion.

  4. Yup, you got a good mom, okay. Maybe that primed you for your photography career. Snurk.

%d bloggers like this: