Do I dare disturb the universe?
Jerry Renault ponders this question from the Private Catholic School he newly attends. Each year the school partakes in a chocolate sale which help funds programming. While the sale is said to be optional for students to participate in , they are strongly, STRONGLY encouraged to do so.This year the students are encouraged to sell double what they did last year, and the cost has doubled as well.
A group of bad-boy “secret society” types called the Vigils find Jerry to be a target for their latest prank and tell him that he is not to sell the chocolates for the first 11 days. Each week as the students are tallied for the number of boxes they have sold, Jerry announces he has sold none. The head master is furious much to the Vigils delight, but after day eleven, Jerry decides to take a stand and not sell the chocolates as all, thus making the head of the Vigils a laughing stock amongst his peers, and this does not go over well. Jerry’s stand turns into a war witht he Vigils, with some of the students, and with the school.
As Jerry’s fellow students admire Jerry for his courage, the headmaster as well as the head of the Vigils have other plans for making Jerry comply…
Why did I want to read this book? It is a banned book and looked like one I wanted to give a try to.
Wowza. Can say we have a winner? The Chocolate War is the portrayal of a dystopian type world where you just need to fall in line with what you are told to do… (think Pink Floyd, The Wall video). When Jerry comes on the scene and at first is bullied into not selling the chocolates like everyone else and then decided to not sell at all.. things get pretty crazy in this book.
Bullying is a strong theme throughout the book, and not just the physical kind – and not just from the students…. really the book is powerful and sad but really made an impact on me. I am so glad I read it.
The audio is a 5 1/2 hours and was perfect with my current crazy schedule. Narrated by Frank Muller the book read well and kept me engaged. Recommended!
Why Was The Chocolate War Banned?
Challenged and/or banned for nudity, offensive language, being sexually explicit and unsuited for age group.
Initially removed from Harford County (MD) High School curriculum due to vulgar language overshadowing anti-bullying message, but in November 2007, the school superintendent reversed the ban to allow the use of the book in classes dealing with harassment for which all parents have signed permission slips. Challenged as optional reading in a bullying unit at the Lake Oswego (OR) Junior High School because the novel is “peppered with profanities, ranging from derogatory slang terms to sexual encounters and violence.” Challenged in the Coeur d’Alene (ID) School district where parents say the book, along with 5 other, should require parental permission for students to read them. Challenged as required reading for 7th-grade students at the John H. Kinzie Elementary School in Chicago (IL). Challenged at the Northridge School District in Johnstown (OH) because “if these books were a movie, they would be rated R, why should we encourage them to read these books.”
Challenged, but retained in the West Hartford (CN) schools. Parents of a King Philip Middle School eighth grader thought the language, sexual content, and violence made the book PG-13. Challenged in the Wake County (NC) schools because the book has “vulgar and sexually explicit language.” Parents are getting help from Called2Action, a Christian group that says its mission is to “promote and defend our shared family and social values.”
Challenged for sexual content and offensive language.
Challenged for sexual content, offensive language, religious viewpoint, being unsuited to age group and violence.
Challenged in Fairfax (VA) school libraries by a group called Parents Against Bad Books in Schools for “profanity and descriptions of drug abuse, sexually explicit conduct and torture”.
Challenged for profanity, scenes of masturbation and sexual fantasy along with segments denigrating to girls.
Challenged in York County (VA) for sexually explicit language. Retained as optional reading for eighth graders in Girard (PA) despite a grandmother finding the book offensive and not wanting her grand-daughter reading it. Challenged for being on the eighth grade reading list of Lancaster (MA) school district for language and content. Challenged at a Lisbon (OH) board of education meeting as a “pornographic” book that should be removed from high school English classes.
So… you want some chocolates? 😛
My friend Florinda at The 3 T’s Blog also wrote a post on the Chocolate Wars today (book version) and we thought it would be fun to a little “sweetness” to our reviews. I will be giving away Ghiradelli chocolates to one of the lucky commenters using both out blog posts to enter. Just leave a comment on either my or Florindas post for an entry – comment on both and you will get three entries because math… is not my strength :D.
41 thoughts on “The Chocolate Wars by Robert Cormier (Banned Book Review and a CHOCOLATE GIVEAWAY!)”
I have heard lots about this book. It is one of my husband’s favorite that he talks about all the time. I haven’t read it and really need to.
bournmelissa at hotmail dot com
That is kind of cool Mel! I hoe you do read it 😉
Thank you BBW for bringing this book to my attention on a number of blogs! And thank you Sheila for the chance to win chocolate. if there is one thing I love as much as books it’s CHOCOLATE 😉
I am with you there Jennifer… CHOCOLATE…. mmmmmmm
I appreciate your including so many of the reasons this book’s been banned or challenged in your review–yep, they all apply. And yep, they’re also part of why it packs such a wallop. So glad we “read” it together, Sheila!
I like to post that Florinda so everyone can see what the “flame throwing” is all about 😉 Thanks you too for sharing this book with me… it was my first time through it and I cant wait to get a copy of my own!
This book has been popular this week!
It has and I am so glad – the buzz made me read it 😉
I hated selling chocolate (or any of the other stuff we had to sell for school fundraisers)! I remember seeing this book in my school library as a teen but I never picked it up. Now I wish I had! I’ll have to add it to my TBR list. Thanks for your review!
You and me both Christina…. selling blah.
Great post. I really like this book. Some time ago I reviewed The Chocolate War at my blog Jessy’s Bookends. This book is about self confidence and character, it fights bullying! I cannot believe how groups think they can micromanage what us or our kids read. The chronology you showed us on this post was really interesting and provided backbone to your post. In the past I have wrote in my blog against banning of books and it is nice to see more and more bloggers helping to spread the written word.
Thanks – you know as I posted about the banning a I kept thinking, did I read the same book? I don’t remember any of this being an issue… none of this shocked me or seemed over the top to me and there are books out there that I think “Whoa… too much!” This was not one of them.
I’m still wondering how I missed ever reading this book. Well, tell me a book is about chocolate and then tell me not to read it and I’m soooo going to read it now!
Exactly – the title alone was like really??? Does the chocolate win? 😛
I’ve requested the book at the library, because of your review. It was already of my list “someday I’ll read…” but you bumped it up. And that was before I heard about the chocolate!
Ahhhh, Gina – thank you! I hope you enjoy it – on audio it was only 6 hours long so it is not a very big book 😀
I just don’t see how that book is “dangerous”!! LOL. Chocolate is always appreciated! :0)
Apparently the “brutality” and language are not appropriate.
Okay, so I must begin this post with two simple truths: I have never read this book/seen this moving. Two: I LOVE CHOCOLATE! I had actually not heard of this book before, and it sounds like it would be a really great read. What would be fabulous is reading this book, while eating chocolate 😉
LOL – then this book (and this post) are for you! 😀
Sheila, you don’t mention content in your review which is mostly the reason this book was banned. Based on the claim that there is profanity and sexuality explicit content, I wouldn’t recommend this for my kids to read. Is it as bad as they say? I have to ask because sometimes they make it sound horrible such as when they banned Dr Suess’ book Green Eggs and Ham, and there wasn’t anything objectionable except what they thought was implied. Know what I mean?
We all have to be responsible as parents for what our kids are exposed to. We have to consider how mature is the kid but at the same time understand kids cannot be kept inside cocoons. Sexuality is a part of life and reading a book won’t affect anyone’s life…. on the contrary lack of knowledge and ignorance can impact anyone beyond repair.
Precisely why I’m asking about content. However, not reading material that might be offensive will not make someone ignorant. I truly believe that although kids are exposed to all kinds of things at school, through media and friends, it’s still the parents’ responsibility to educate them on all subjects, including sexuality.
I too had not heard of this one before so would love to be counted in! the chocolate is a bonus.
You are in Mystica 😀
I read this powerful book several years ago, pre-blogging, I think. Giving away chocolate is like a great in connection with this book. You have some nifty ideas.
Thanks Bonnie! i will link them as soin as i have time.
I totally need to get familiar with this story that I have been hearing about for a million years! Thanks for the giveaway!
I think you would like this one Jill knowing your reviews.
This one is definitely on my list….thanks for the history on the challenges, too.
I think it is important we read banned books Laurel and we also know why they were banned. It isnt always obvious as I have come to learn 🙂
This book has been around forever but, for whatever reason, I’ve never read it. I definitely will now. I’ve always found books/movies about secret societies fascinating and the fact that the book was challenged/banned only piques my curiosity.
The song Another Brick in the Wall brings back memories of music class in middle school. Our music teacher used to play that song a lot before class started.
Thanks for the giveaway 🙂
I like the secret society theme fun as well. It would be great to be in one wouldnt it? Makes me want to watch dead Poets Society 🙂
This sounds like on of those books you should read in English class (like Lord of the Flies), but I never did. Thanks for the great info on this title!
Yes I think so too and I never was given the chance to read these in school.
I love the exposure banned book week gives to books I would never have picked up otherwise.
I do too Mary, that’s why I get involved 😀 We all need to know about these books.
This book looks great and I can’t believe it was banned! I look forward to banned book week to learn more about what books were banned and why. Then, I try to read the books on the list to see what I think! Thanks for this great review and giveaway! I would love to win a copy of this book!
I haven’t read this book but I sure want to. It sounds fascinating. And it really irritates me how ofte this book’s been banned. So many kids in HS are bullied and yet a book about that very issue is regularly banned. Ridiculous!
Thank you to you and Florinda for highlighting this terrific book! It’s on my wishlist now. And thank you for giving away chocolate. I think I’m going to need some when I read this book!
Thank you for a facinating post. I was intregued as to why this book was ‘Banned’. Others thoughts and opinions on literature is so diverse, i am not sure if i agree; although the reasoning behind it is quite detailed.
I have also commented on the ‘3T’s Blog’ as well, under this name. Thank you and i continue to enjoy Banned Books Week. x
Oh, wow…they made it into a movie? I don’t think I could watch that…I could barely bear the violence reading it.
And isn’t amazing that with the very graphic, horrifying violence in the book, almost every ban focused on sexual content primarily? There is nothing at all sexually explicit in the book – just references to masturbation. Those are some messed up priorities!
Glad you enjoyed it, too, Sheila – it is a powerful book.
And thanks for hosting all the Banned Book Week activities!! It was a lot of fun –