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Banned Book Review 2: Snow Falling on Cedars

November 14, 2012

33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson

Reason: complaints regarding the book’s sexual content and profanity.

Also, a weirdly “male gaze” moment in which the author goes on at length about a character’s opinion of her breasts over the course of her life.  There is a more detailed description of this character’s breasts than there is of many of the other not-insignificant characters in the book.  Seriously, I’m talking size, weight, position, and nipple angle.  Yes, really.

Snow Falling on Cedars is a fairly complex book.  It is several stories intertwined, told through the narrative of a murder trial.  Over the course of the book, Guterson explores interracial relationships, the forced imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during the second war, gender roles in the 50s, racism, and gillnetting, which is apparently sort of like trawling, only with less driving around in the dark.

Yes, there are several sex scenes.  The character mentioned above?  Has lots of very detailed sex with her husband.  Yes, this sex includes more descriptions of her breasts.  Also, there are some generally profane words thrown around as well as a whole slew of racial slurs.  It also puts the racism of the way Japanese-Americans were treated into sharp focus, managing to sum up the whole conflict in a single exchange between two of the central characters.  It’s a very, very good book.  Not a book I’d give to an elementary aged kid, but I think if you had a mature 7th grader who already had a pretty good idea of how sex works, you’d probably do fine.

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