25th Trillium Award

Freedom to Read Week: Maeve O'Regan Reads and Releases The Wars

 
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In support of Freedom to Read Week, the Open Book team participated in the Book Crossing program. Each person selected a book from the Book and Periodical Council's list of challenged books, read it and released it where it will be found by another reader to enjoy and pass on.

Open Book: Toronto's Editorial Intern, Maeve O'Regan, writes about her choice, The Wars by Timothy Findley.

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Timothy Findley?s The Wars was first challenged in 1991. A Lambton County high school student asked that the book be removed from the English curriculum because a passage describing a Canadian soldier?s rape by a group of his fellow officers would pressure young readers to ?accept homosexuality.? Twenty years later, the parent of a high school student in Bluewater County requested that the book not be used in Grade 12 literature classes because of its many ?inappropriate? depictions of sex and violence. In both cases, students and other members of the communities fought to keep The Wars in schools. It remains a part of the Ontario secondary school curriculum to this day.

In his memoir Inside Memory, Findley recalls a conversation with author Margaret Laurence where he defended his inclusion of the rape in his award-winning novel. He believed that the novel?s protagonist and other young men of his generation were ?raped, in effect, by the people who made the war.? He said that he could not remove it, that it was ?intrinsic — deeply meshed in the fabric of the book.? This scene and others within the novel are undoubtedly violent and horrifying, but so is war.

On my way home yesterday, I freed the book in the Christie subway station. As I walked up the stairs to street level, a large group of young people made their way down. Perhaps one of them saw The Wars sitting on the black bench facing the westbound tracks and took it with them. Perhaps they'd read it before, perhaps not. A stunning piece of literature that remains relevant to this day, I hope that whoever picked it up will read it (or reread it) and discuss it, just as I hope that it continues to be read and discussed in high school classrooms for many years to come.

Maeve O'Regan is an avid reader, occasional writer and enthusiastic publishing newbie. She is currently interning for Open Book: Toronto and enrolled in the Publishing Certificate Program at Ryerson University. She worked previously as an Editorial Intern at Knopf Canada.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check back throughout Freedom to Read Week for more BookCrossing posts from Open Book team.

Thanks to Penguin Canada for donating a copy of The Wars.

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