Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityAuthor of book banned from Washington County school libraries speaks out | KUTV
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Author of book banned from Washington County school libraries speaks out

Out of Darkness Book Cover
Out of Darkness Book Cover
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Ashley Hope Perez has become accustomed to her books being the subject of controversy.

Her acclaimed young adult novel, Out of Darkness, lived incident-free on school library shelves for years since its 2015 debut. Then, a Texas parent declared war.

Last September, a parent used the public comment period of a school board meeting to decry the book’s content as sexually explicit and inappropriate for middle school library shelves. The district pulled the book shortly after the compliant. describes the novel as “loosely based on Romeo and Juliet, following the real-life 1937 New London school explosion in East Texas. In the novel, a Mexican girl and Black boy fall in love, breaking all of the rules about interracial romance during a volatile time in Texas — and American — history.”

Now, the book has caught the attention of parents in Washington County schools, and a Dec. 14 board meeting resulted in a vote to remove the book from secondary school libraries.

Perez, a former high school English teacher, says the inspiration for writing the book came from her students, who often lacked reading material that reflected their realities.

“I think, in this moment when marginalized teens are already struggling, it’s imperative that we send a message of inclusion, not of exclusion,” Perez says. “When you say this book doesn’t belong in our libraries, you’re one step away from saying kids with identities like these don’t belong in our schools. And that’s a dangerous message.”

Washington County, UT, is 93.2 percent white, according to the most recent Census statistics.

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The Utah State Board of Education has been working on a set of recommendations to help advise schools on a process by which library books may be challenged, removed or retained. One of the recommendations has been that a book should remain available for student check-out until the evaluation is complete. A final version of those guidelines is expected in upcoming months.

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