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Author Garth Stein On Highland Park Book Suspension: 'It's Baffling'

Frank Huster
Author Garth Stein with Comet, the dog on the cover of 'The Art of Racing In The Rain.'

The Highland Park school district has attracted attention after seven books were suspended from classrooms last week. Those books are under further review, which could take several months. One of books suspended is called The Art of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein​. The story is told from the perspective of a dog named Enzo, and it was on the district’s class syllabus for the fall.

Interview Highlights: Garth Stein...

Credit HarperCollins
"The Art of Racing In The Rain" is one of seven books Highland Park suspended from classrooms last week.

...On his reaction to the news of his book being pulled from the classroom:

“I was a little baffled. I mean, there’s so many positive messages in the book about how to lead your life, personal responsibility and so forth. I understand that part of the plot revolves around an allegation of sexual molestation. The scene is not very explicit but I guess the concept is. For the 10th graders that are the [Highland Park] class that’s reading this, I think that’s a discussion they should be having in the classroom or at home with their parents.” 

...On the issue of book challenges:

“I think that the point isn’t to suppress ideas, but to bring them out and to discuss them. Now not every book is appropriate for every audience, but I also have to understand that teachers aren’t just randomly trying to pick inflammatory books just to be controversial. They choose books because they think it will engage students, it will lead to a good discussion, and it will appeal to the majority of the students who they’re teaching.”

...On his hopes for the outcome at Highland Park:

“From my Facebook page, I have offered to get engaged in that discussion if [Highland Park] would care to. I can explain to them the context of the scene, why it was necessary for the plot of the book. It would be a shame to see it pulled from the shelves. I get emails from high school students all the time and I love that because it’s hard to get high school students to read books. There’s so many distractions.” 

Garth Stein will have a new novel out, called A Sudden Light, on Sept. 30.  

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.