DeWitt:: Controversial writer visits J-D class

Jamesville-DeWitt ninth graders and senior Sports Literature students had the chance to meet a nationally recognized author whose books they are currently reading in class.

Chris Crutcher, known for writing books that use hard language and situations, was a guest at the high school while in Syracuse for another purpose altogether -- to celebrate the 26th annual Banned Books Week with the Onondaga Public Library.

"The purpose of his visit [at J-D High School] is to bring an author to the kids," said Mary Panek, Learning Center librarian. "We haven't had an author visit in a few years. It had nothing to do with Banned Books Week for this school, but he was brought to the area because of Banned Books Week."

Banned Books Week -- which opposes censorship and recognizes your freedom to read freely -- is a national celebration. Many banned or challenged books include classics such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck and "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Crutcher's books have also made the list more than once. "Whale Talk" and "Athletic Shorts" are just two of many. His stories focus on troubled teens and mature situations like rape, racism and sexuality, and many are based on people he's met and known when he was a therapist.

"What I really want to do with them [his stories] is reflect what I see is the truth for the kind of kids that I write about," Crutcher said. "I worked as a therapist for a long time, and secrecy and not talking about things is the meat and potatoes of that business."

Crutcher said secrecy is the reason people get hurt.

"That's why kids are getting molested and don't tell," he said. "If you write stories of what you know about that, and people read them, it becomes a little more real in the world."

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