Someone tell me why someone somewhere thought this was a good idea.
Yesterday I was floating around Twitter and saw this tweet by Justina Ireland.
If you don’t follow her, I’m not sure why you aren’t- go immediately to Twitter and follow her and come back. I’ll wait.
Anyway, I saw this tweet and was just flabbergasted:
OMFG, this description: pic.twitter.com/8MHrWY45Kr
— Justina Ireland (@justinaireland) May 26, 2016
I just couldn’t believe what I was reading, and honestly thought it was some sort of prank.
But nope, it’s part of Simon & Schuster’s Spring 2017 releases, according to Riveted, Simon & Schusters’ PR blog for teen releases.
I’m sure there are many voices that have expressed their outrage over this better than I ever could. Hafsah Faizal eloquently expresses what I can only scream about in my head.
Now people have pointed out over social media that there is nothing in the description to say that the main character is Muslim and that the YA community is jumping to conclusions based on his name. Considering that Khalil is Arabic and means “friend,” I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch. If the main character is actually Caucasian and called Khalil I’m not sure that’s better.
With everything that the YA community has been striving for, a book like this- even with a whitewashed cover- sets everything back and can damage a teen beyond repair. Worse, it can cause so much unnecessary controversy within their community and cast suspicion where there is none. Think I’m wrong? Take a look at media reports from Texas:
Things will only heighten as the 15th anniversary of 9-11 comes closer.
Even worse (can it get worse?), some online are thinking that this is a reflection on the events of the Boston Marathon bombing. If so, the publishing timing is horrible, as it’s scheduled to be released in February, 2017, four years later.
Even more disappointing still is that this publisher is one of the huge 5 in publishing,
and has gathered a lot of awards in recent years for books published with GLBTQ themes, among other diversity issues.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe is a Stonewall Winner and Better Nate than Ever is a Stonewall Honor Book.
They also published Some Assembly Required and Rethinking Normal, the parallel memoirs of transitioning teens.
If you want to write to Simon and Schuster about this, contact them here.
If you are attending conferences or assemblies soon where the publisher’s representatives will be there,
be sure to stop by their booth and let them know how you feel.