A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this award-winning book has garnered criticism for its intense material, including a protagonist who is repeatedly raped by her father and gang raped by other teens. There is also sodomy, bestiality, and graphic depictions of a miscarriage, a mauling, and more. Yet this book has also earned a great deal of praise for its masterful writing. Mature readers who make it through will have plenty to think about, including whether any topic is ever off limits for children, teen, or adult readers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
This book is a mature retelling of the Snow-White and Rose-Red \ fairy tale. After being repeatedly raped by her father and gang-raped by \ local teens, Liga escapes -- with her baby daughter and another on the \ way -- to a magical world where she's safe and everything is perfect. \ But soon others from the real world find their way into hers, and then \ her younger daughter finds her way back to the real world, eventually \ forcing Liga and her older daughter to come back and learn to deal with \ reality.
Is it any good?
It's no wonder this book has earned so much attention, including both awards and sharp criticism: It's both an amazing work of literature and incredibly intense. In an interview with suite101.com, the author says that the book would be too much for adults who are feeling fragile ("You need to be feeling resilient to take on the first part, particularly," she said).
Still, mature readers up for a challenge will find a complex but expertly constructed novel that's highly emotional and thought provoking. Parents and teachers guiding older teen readers could talk to them about a wide variety of topics, from the psychology of survival to book censorship and more. Our discussion guide can get you started, or look at Random House's Teacher Guide for ideas about delving more deeply into this often dark book.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this book's controversial content. When asked about this book, author Phillip Pullman told The Observer, "I don't think there should be areas that children's books can't deal with." Do you agree?
Are books judged more harshly than other media? Should they be, or do they deserve more slack?
Families may also like to look at all the different editions of the book and talk about which take seems the most appropriate given the material. Is there one that marks it most clearly for an older teen audience?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.