Robert Cox reports on a curious outbreak of missing pages from a New Rochelle High School library. The same pages disappeared from every copy of the book Girl, Interrupted, which explores author Susan Kaysen’s experiences in the 1960s as a young woman self-committed to a mental health hospital. Vandalism? Only of an official kind:
Students at New Rochelle School High School are going to find it difficult to complete their next assignment: comparing the film adaptation of “Girl, Interrupted” to the best-selling book. In the book, Kaysen recounts her confinement at a Massachussets mental hospital in the 1960’s.
Pages from the middle of the book have been torn out by the school district after having been deemed “inappropriate” by school officials due to sexual content and strong language. Removed is a scene where the rebellious Lisa (played by Angela Jolie in the movie) encourages Susanna (played by Winona Ryder) to circumvent hospital rules against sexual intercourse by engaging in oral sex instead.
“The material was of a sexual nature that we deemed inappropriate for teachers to present to their students,” said English Department Chariperson Leslie Altschul, “since the book has other redeeming features, we took the liberty of bowdlerizing.”
At issue are pages 64-70 of the book, a chapter called “Checkmate”. It deals with a dialog between the girls in the facility about having sex with visitors and avoiding getting caught by the nurses during their five-minute room checks. The language is frank and realistic, and anyone with an Internet connection can read the first three pages of the section by using Amazon’s search function. New Rochelle High School apparently didn’t realize this or the curiosity their crude censorship would create, nor did they consider the strange message their actions would send to the students.
One does not, under any circumstances, tear pages out of books. It is just uncivilized and wrong. Period.