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Illinois High School Draws Fire for Pulling Jonathan Safran Foer Novel From Curriculum

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is one of the most important novels ever written about 9/11, and it’s a modern classic of American literature. That didn’t save it from getting dropped from the curriculum of an Illinois high school, however, after parents complained about its “extremely” vulgar content.

Mattoon High School in Illinois first eliminated the book from its curriculum in September, and the institution is now making national headlines as free speech groups decry the decision.

The school’s principal, Michele Sinclair, explained that the book upset parents in part because they weren’t notified about the passages in question. “The problem wasn’t necessarily the book or the material,” Sinclair told the Journal Gazette-Times Courier, a local paper. “The problem was that we did not provide parents with an opportunity to opt out.”

Going forward, the district will notify parents when potentially controversial books are being read – just as they do for R-rated movies, Sinclair said. This move has also infuriated free speech groups, who say that warning parents about certain novels falsely presents those books as dangerous.

The National Coalition Against Censorship targeted the school district with an open letter, which argues strongly against the change in curriculum.

It’s unclear if Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close will ever be read in the district again, even under the new notification system.