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Property of the Rebel Librarian

Review

Property of the Rebel Librarian

Twelve-year-old June Harper has always been an obedient daughter and student. However, when her parents do the unthinkable, she feels like she has no choice to rebel and to stand up for what she believes in. June is an avid reader and as she says, “They’ve (her parents) always been okay with the books I’ve read” (p. 2) until the day they weren’t. When June’s parents deem a book that she borrowed from her school library inappropriate it sets off a series of events that lead to the removal of a significant number of books from the Dogwood Middle School library, the cancelling of an upcoming author visit, the firing of the school librarian, and, ultimately, to June becoming the rebel librarian.

"I quite enjoyed PROPERTY OF THE REBEL LIBRARIAN; I feel like Varnes did a good job of presenting a balanced representation of characters and groups."

PROPERTY OF THE REBEL LIBRARIAN details June’s creation of a secret library at her school and the impact this has on her relationships at school and home and her self-perception. As a result of the rift that is caused by the book banning at Dogwood Middle School, June discovers that maybe she doesn’t have as much in common with her soon to be former friends as she thought, but that there are so many new friends to be made who she has more in common with than she ever imagined. Perhaps more importantly than getting to know new people, June gets to know herself and uncovers a strength and persistence she didn’t know she had.

Overall, I quite enjoyed PROPERTY OF THE REBEL LIBRARIAN; I feel like Varnes did a good job of presenting a balanced representation of characters and groups. In our current climate I feel like it is our tendency, no matter which “side” you are on, to view the other “side” as radical to the point of insanity. However, rather than falling into this binary extreme, Varnes provides some nuance in the portrayal of June’s parents and the reasons for their actions. I also liked how contemporary the book felt with references to Little Free Libraries and recent books.

My primary criticism of PROPERTY OF THE REBEL LIBRARIAN is how similar it is to BAN THIS BOOK by Alan Gratz. The storylines of the two novels are eerily similar; in fact, they could be described as the elementary and middle school versions of the same story. BAN THIS BOOK was published in 2017, so with it being the first book on the scene it is difficult not to see it as the proprietary one. I have no doubt that PROPERTY OF THE REBEL LIBRARIAN was well into the publication process before BAN THIS BOOK was published, but I question whether or not some tweaks could have been made to differentiate the two.

With that criticism aside PROPERTY OF THE REBEL LIBRARIAN is both a good and important read and I will be recommending it to a wide audience. 

Reviewed by Aimee Rogers on October 25, 2018

Property of the Rebel Librarian
by Allison Varnes