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Controversial Book On Hillsborough School Reading List Gets Disclaimer

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

“The reviews on it — there is graphic violence in the book but it’s used to tell the story,” said Board of Education member John Oliver, who also sits on the Education Committee. “Although some of the reviews 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 town where all thoughts can be heard, according to the book description.

Board member Elaine Jackson raised concerns about the book after reading it.

“I read the reviews on it and there was reference to the violence. And I later read the book after the education meeting, and so I still have objects to the content,” said Jackson, who asked the board to place a disclaimer on the book.

Oliver said teachers would be told to use caution with some students in regard to the book.

“It just had the recommendation if there is a sensitive student, teachers should use caution with allowing them to pick that book,” Oliver said. “I think it is an appropriate book, but if teachers use some caution and see a student sensitive to that, they should encourage them to pick another book.”

Acting Superintendent Kim Feltre noted the books are part of the March Madness summer reading list, and high school students are able to pick books off the list.

Board member Gregory Gillette said he had no problem voting yes for the book if the administration put a disclaimer warning about the violence.

‘It’s [grades] 9 to 12, so that doesn’t bother me so much. Seriously, the only way to prevent that is to just vote no on the book. But I don’t think we need to vote no on the book,” said Gillette.

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

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

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

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