Controversial book on Hillsborough School reading list gets disclaimer

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – A disclaimer was put on one of the books on Hillsborough High School’s summer reading list due to “incidents of graphic violence” in it after Monday’s board meeting.

“The reviews of it – there’s graphic violence in the book, but it’s used to tell the story,” said board member John Oliver, who also sits on the education committee. “Although some of the reviewers said the violence is a little too graphic.”

The book in question is “The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness, a dystopian thriller that follows a boy and girl on the run from a city where all thoughts can be heard, according to the book’s description.

Board member Elaine Jackson expressed concern over the book after reading it.

“I read the reviews on it, and the violence was referred to. And I subsequently read the book after the training meeting, and then I still have objections to the content,” said Jackson, who asked the board to file a disclaimer on Order.

Oliver said teachers would be asked to be careful with some students in relation to the book.

“It just had a recommendation, if there is a sensitive student, teachers should be careful about allowing them to choose that book,” Oliver said. “I think it’s an appropriate book, but if teachers exercise some caution and see a student being sensitive to it, they should encourage them to choose another book.”

Acting principal Kim Feltre noted that the books are part of the March Madness summer reading list, and high school students are able to select books from the list.

Board member Gregory Gillette said he had no problem voting yes to the book if the administration issued a disclaimer warning of the violence.

“It is [grades] 9 to 12, so it does not bother me so much. Seriously, the only way to prevent that is to just vote no to the book. But I do not think we need to vote no to the book, “Gillette said.

Board member Allison Laning-Beder noted that all of the books on the list are suggested by both students and school staff.

“All the books were recommended not only by students but also by our staff. And the reviews outside of it were all strong that it is a very well written book and provides many opportunities for discussion,” Laning-Beder said.

The Board of Education unanimously approved the list at its May 9 meeting and decided to place a disclaimer on it.

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