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Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath was written in 1939. This classic fictional story follows the Joad family as they migrate westward due to the dust bowl that caused thousands to flee to California. Steinbeck depicted their life-threatening flight with tremendous accuracy.

Even though the book was met with immediate success, in the same year, the Board of Supervisors in Kern County California banned the book from libraries and schools. Gretchen Knief, a local librarian worked behind the scenes to get the ban lifted. “It is such a dangerous thing to begin” she wrote. “Besides, banning books is so utterly hopeless and futile. Ideas don’t die because a book is forbidden reading.” Her efforts failed but underscore the battle that continues today regarding the freedom to read any book and the opposition to that freedom if anyone deems it inappropriate.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt loved the book. She said “Now I must tell you that I have just finished a book which is an unforgettable experience in reading. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, both repels and attracts you. The horrors of the picture, so well-drawn, make you dread sometimes to begin the next chapter, and yet you cannot lay the book down or even skip a page.”

Despite its being banned, The Grapes of wrath won a Pulitzer in 1940 and Steinbeck wone a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962.

Steinbeck has always been one of my favorite authors. His characters are three-dimensional people who are both deeply good and equally flawed. He was a prolific author who died in 1968. The titles to check out include The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden and Of Mice and Men.