‘There is this sense of revising history’

New Hampshire poet laureate Alexandria Peary, right, interviews author Jodi Picoult, left, at the New Hampshire Humanities 2023 Annual Celebration of the Humanities at The Palace Theatre in Manchester on Wednesday.

New Hampshire poet laureate Alexandria Peary, right, interviews author Jodi Picoult, left, at the New Hampshire Humanities 2023 Annual Celebration of the Humanities at The Palace Theatre in Manchester on Wednesday. Olivia Richardson/ NHPR

By OLIVIA RICHARDSON

New Hampshire Public Radio

Published: 11-10-2023 3:27 PM

New York Times best-selling author and Upper Valley resident Jodi Picoult was the keynote speaker for the New Hampshire Humanities annual celebration in Manchester on Wednesday night.

Picoult has been an outspoken critic of book bans, as her own titles have been targeted around the country.

She shared that one parent at her son’s school, here in the Granite State, raised concerns about her book, “19 Minutes.” The novel chronicles a fictional school shooting in New Hampshire, and the parent warned it could cause a copycat incident.

“But the fact that they could see themselves in the book was exactly the reason I wrote it,” Picoult said, “and the fact that it could happen and does happen in any community and is still happening.”

She said it’s necessary to preserve students’ access to books through public libraries. While it might seem like books would be relatively easy to obtain, she said, not all teens and kids have a way to find titles that have been pulled from the shelves — and that cuts them off from critical opportunities to learn about other perspectives.

“There is this sense of revising history,” she said. “If we pull something off the shelf, then that person’s life or that person’s history does not exist. We don’t actually get to make that choice.”

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Picoult said she actively fights back on book bans and is excited for her next book to come out next year.

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