District took 'Bless Me, Ultima' off sophomore reading list
The removal stemmed from a parent complaint about the anti-Catholic tone of the book and its sexually explicit scenes. The school board and superintendent focused on the number of curse words in the book when contemplating a ban.
"Honestly, out of all the books we ever read, I never thought 'Bless me, Ultima' would ever be banned," Perez, who is now a sophomore at UC Merced, said.
Written by Anaya in 1972, "Bless Me, Ultima" is set in New Mexico and profiles a Latino boy maturing, asking questions concerning evil, justice and the nature of God, and trying to reconcile American Indian religion with traditional Roman Catholicism. The boy turns often to Ultima, a caregiver of sorts, for help as he grows.
The book was spotlighted on former First Lady Laura Bush's must-read list, and is also the literature selection for this year's state high school academic decathlon competition.
Bless Me, Ultima was one of three books I was "required" to read the summer before attending college. (The other two were Plato's Republic and The Autobiography of Malcolm X.) I don't remember any of the books well.
I presume Bless Me, Ultima was pretty good. Who knows? Perhaps the Indian aspects influenced me to undertake my Native-oriented quest some 14 years later.
For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Books.