Kirkus Reviews

Author of Banned Book Pens Open Letter to Students

Mike Curato’s graphic novel ‘Flamer’ was recently banned by a Georgia school district.

Flamer author Mike Curato wants students at Georgia’s Marietta High School to know they’re not alone.

The writer and illustrator, whose graphic novel was recently banned by the Cobb County School District, wrote a letter to students at the high school, the Marietta Daily Journal reports.

Flamer, published in 2020 by Henry Holt, tells the story of Aiden, a queer biracial teenager in his last days at a Boy Scout camp. In a starred review, a Kirkus critic praised it as “a story that will be read and reread, and for some, it will be the defining book of their adolescence.”

It has been a frequent target for challenges in schools and libraries. It ranked No. 4 on the American Library Association’s list of the most banned or challenged books of 2022.

In his letter to Marietta High students, Curato wrote, “You deserve to be here. No matter who you are, what you believe, or who you love. I need you to know this because when I was young, it was implied that there was no room in this world for someone like me. Not unless I followed their rules.”

He continued, “Flamer is my truth and my joy. It may make some people uncomfortable, but their comfort is NOTHING compared to your safety and happiness. Remember that. They can ban my book, but no one has the right to ban YOU.”

Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.