Ben and Kandi Lovin's 11-year-old daughter toted home a book from the Rosemount Middle School library. Judging from the cover, it appeared to be solid literature. "Just One Day" by Gayle Forman was last year's winner of the Young Adult Library Services Association's award for best fiction.
The story follows Allyson Healey's beating heart as she accompanies Willem, a Dutch free bird and thespian, during a 24-hour sojourn to Paris. Interwoven among anecdotes of liberation and enlightenment are f-bombs, boozing, and condoms.
It's those seedy references that stirred the Lovins' parental ire, which became a book-banning quest.
"It is a novel that has no life lessons to be learned from at this age level that can not be learned from one of many quality books available," read the parents' formal request to have the book removed from all District 196's libraries. "I expect the books my children bring home from school to be appropriate, educational or examples of well written literature."
Last week, the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District convened a committee of high school students, parents, and staff to hear the case. An audience numbering almost two dozen people listened as examples of sexuality, foul language, and nefarious behavior were called out in what the Lovins deemed "inappropriate" for all kids who attend the suburbs' schools.
District policy allows anyone within its boundaries to challenge any instructional resource.
Media specialist Dawn Lyons, who spoke in defense of the novel, argued that the book's life lessons were of greater value than a few unsavory details.
"I see it as a learning experience," Rosemount senior Kennedy Rieck told the Rosemount Town Pages. "I look it as finding yourself and seeing yourself in a different way."
After an hour of discussion, the committee was given three options. It could keep the book on library shelves. The work could be removed from middle school libraries. Or it could be taken from both middle and high school shelves.
The members voted 7-4 to keep "Just One Day" on all library shelves. The Lovins rejected having the book restricted from just their daughter. (Nor did they respond to repeated interview requests.)
The failed censorship effort comes on the heels of a similar effort last year, when a parent requested the removal of “Sixth-grade can Really Kill You,” citing the use of the word “retarded.” The committee voted unanimously to keep it in circulation.