Cover Image: Answers in the Pages

Answers in the Pages

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Member Reviews

How do you put into words a book that touched your heart? I adored David Levithan’s Answers in the Pages, but I knew this review would be incredibly difficult to write. Levithan captures the heart and humanity of an often-discussed issue in an accessible and easily digestible way. It put into words that feeling, deep in your gut, that you get when you read about another school, town, or place attempting to ban a book. That is no small feat, and it makes it awfully hard to express how deeply this book will impact you, how important it will be to kids and grownups alike, and how much value it will add to your life.


This middle grade fiction jumps off the page and engages the reader from the gripping beginning all the way to the final page. It’s thought provoking, insightful, pointed, and just so very important. It is so touchingly beautiful. I cried multiple times, I gasped, I laughed– it’s a full roller coaster of emotions, all running on an undercurrent of hope.

There are many reasons, from a technical standpoint, that this novel is fantastic. The well-developed characters that feel so viscerally real you hurt when they’re hurt and laugh when they laugh. The incredibly realistic dialogue roots the reader in the scene.

The themes are wide-ranging from inclusivity and LGBTQIA+ to book banning to channeling outrage in a healthy way to how to disagree with people you love. It’s the combination of the gorgeous storytelling and topics middle grade readers encounter daily that contribute to the overall wonderfulness of this book.

I’ve been struggling to pinpoint the feeling that reading this book gave me. I like to think I am inclusive, but I know I have more work to do to be as strong of an ally as I want to be. But it came to me today, the name of the feeling this book gave me: empowered. What a gift for a book to be able to give.

I wish I had the right words to adequately express the impact this book as had on me, and I’m merely an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. I can only imagine the heart-filling, soul-touching, mind-changing impact this book can have on the world.

Even though I’m a writer who should have the right words, I don’t. So instead I would like to leave you with some of my favorite quotes from Answers in the Pages:

“But I think some of the parents who are most afraid of this book are actually afraid that the world you’re growing up in isn’t the world they grew up in. And rather than adjust, they think they can keep it the same. That never works, not in a free society.”

“We are who we are…And we’ll be who we’ll be. A book can make us feel that, but it can’t invent that. It’s already inside us.”

“I’m not coming out to you, I could have said. Because for all I felt at that moment, I wasn’t gay. But at the same time I wanted her to understand what she was doing to all the kids who were or would be gay or lesbian or bi or trans or nonbinary by trying to pull a book from our class just because it had one boy saying he loved another boy.”

“Even if you pull all the queer books from our class, even if you could manage to somehow pull all the queer books from this town, I guarantee you, you will not stop us from being who we are. The worst damage you can do is to make the more vulnerable of us feel bad about it. But you cannot hold back the ocean. The ocean will not be contained in such a way.”

David Levithan’s Answers in the Pages is available now. Thank you to the author, Random House Children’s publishing, and NetGalley for an advanced digital copy such that I could share my honest opinions here.
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answers in the pages is a very well done middle grade book that intertwines three stories. the first story follows donovan as his mother tries to get his assigned reading banned due to it's "inappropriate content." the second is excerpts of the book that's the cause of all the town's discussion in the first place. the last story is that of gideon and roberto, it's a very sweet and innocent romance. 

this book has a very good message and discusses them in an effective manner. book challenges are shown here in a realistic manner. book banning has become such an important topic these days and i'm hoping this book will get into the hands of those who need it.

thank you to netgalley and random house children's for an arc in exchange for my honest review.
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This is a timely story for our world today in the midst of book banning, LGBTQIA+ discrimination, “Don’t Say Gay”, and so much more. This is a well written  book for all ages with great characters, and an important story line. Highly recommend.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review
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When Donovan leaves a novel, The Adventurers, on the kitchen table, his mother checks out this new assigned read by scanning the end. Her interpretation of the ending sets into motion a chain of events that leads to a community meeting pitting those that want to ban the book against those that support its inclusion in the curriculum. Simultaneously, 5th grader Gideon befriends a new student, Roberto, and their friendship blossoms into a romance. All the while, excerpts from The Adventurers punctuate these two interwoven narratives, tying together characters, themes, conflicts, and larger life lessons that highlight the complexities of identity, family, friendship, and what it means to do the right thing.

Answers in the Pages by David Levithan is a powerful and realistic portrayal of the forces that battle to determine and control the novels and topics that are appropriate for young people to read. Those conflicts have always existed, and Levithan’s work offers an avenue to explore what happens when they unfold. It will provide teachers and young people the opportunity to examine the debate. It aptly exposes the pitfalls of championing a cause based on what is best for “others,” showing that such crusades tend to marginalize whole groups of people in the process. In the case of Answers in the Pages, this means a far-fetched interpretation of a few pages unleashes the town’s misunderstanding about and lack of acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community. Fortunately, like many instances in real life, the young people of this story are the most measured, reasoned, accepting, and hopeful voices. 

Answers in the Pages demonstrates, as ever, that young people’s voices should always be included when choices impact them. The perspective is relevant not just now but always. In the present moment, though, it resonates that much more, especially because the book’s themes and critique will likely make a target of book bans. Even so, its story is out there and will stand as timeless for those willing to hear it. 

Thank you to NetGalley and publisher, Knopf Books for Young Readers, for an eARC of this book.
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Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Random House for the ARC of Answers in the Pages by David Levithan.  This book has so many messages that our world needs.  As a school librarian, this book hits the nail on the head.  Book Challenges have become rampant and this book delves into the world of misunderstandings and hate that they can bring out in people.  Essentially, this book has 3 separate stories going and the last part of the book ties them all together.  A young boy is put into a situation where his mother takes the book he has been assigned to read and reads the ending and decides that there is a homosexual theme to it that her son isn't ready to read about.  This starts an entire chain of events that gives us part of the story from the book and another story from some key characters from the boy's life. Our world looks very different now than what many parents remember their childhood being like and knowing what children are ready for is hard to determine unless we take the time to talk to them.  
#censorship #bookbans #lgbtq+
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This book did a wonderful job of exploring the issue of book challenges. I loved the interweaving of the three stories even though it was hard to keep the three stories straight at first. I worry that many students will stop reading because they are confused in the first few chapters. The writing in the scenes between Donovan and his mom and the school board speeches was masterful. I am very excited to have this in our school library and recommend it to my students next year.
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What an amazing middle school book that takes the issues of middle schoolers and book banning. Unfortunately this book might not make it into the hands of readers that need it the most. What stuck with me is the importance of readers being able to see themselves in books. This book gives some readers a chance to know that they aren’t alone.
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Answers in the Pages by David Levithan is a middle grade novel about book banning and censorship, but it is also so much more. Donovan's 5th grade class is assigned a book called The Adventurers. When he leaves the book sitting on the kitchen counter, he doesn't know that his mom is going to pick it up and read it and he certainly doesn't expect what happens next. Donovan's mom is deeply upset about a scene at the end of the book that refers to the love that the two male main characters feel for each other. Donovan's mom feels that this content is "inappropriate" and that he isn't ready for such "mature themes" and begins a mission to get the book banned from the classroom. The problem is that Donovan doesn't feel the same way and he doesn't know how to share his thought with his mom.

In addition to the main story, readers are given excerpts from The Adventurers and get a peek into the two main characters, their adventures, and their relationship. There is also a third story that we are given a glimpse into...that of Gideon and Roberto (whose relevance isn't revealed right away).

Levithan masterfully weaves together these three seemingly separate storylines and helps us feel for and connect with all the different characters. I primarily picked this book up because I was interested in Donovan's part of the story, but as I was reading I found myself increasingly looking forward to reading more about Gideon and Roberto. I found all of the primary characters to be extremely interesting and likable and I enjoyed the way the chapters allowed me to move through bits of each story. The author's note at the end of the book contains some interesting information on how Levithan named some of his characters and I HIGHLY recommend reading it!

I feel that the content in this book is especially important in 2022 as many school and public libraries face challenges and attempted banning of books, especially those that include LGBTQIA+ characters. Like Donovan's mom, many parents believe that keeping these books away from their children "protects" them, but the reality is that they are already aware of the diversity that exists in the world. Book such as this one allow LGBTQIA+ students to find characters that they can relate to, but they also allow other students to learn how to become allies and support their friends through the challenges that they will face (such as standing up to a book challenge for a book that supports their identity).

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Children's for the opportunity to review Answers in the Pages by David Levithan.
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Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for my honest review.

Adorable! And timelier than ever, due to the most recent surge in angry parents attempting to ban LGBTQ titles. Really enjoyed this - basically like three books in one!
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I loved this book. It had me in tears. This is a book for ALL ages. The characters were very well developed and made me resonate with them. This is my first book by this author and definitely not my last. I will be recommending this book to friends. 
Loved it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to Random House Children's and #NetGalley for an advanced copy of the book for my honest opinion. 
.
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This book is so important right now as school boards and parents across the nation try to ban books simply because they don't like the content. Donovan leaves his school copy of The Adventurers in the kitchen, and when his mom picks it up and finds out the characters *might* be gay, she calls starts the process to remove the book from the school curriculum. This is a timely novel that I can't wait to add to my middle school library.
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This is a complex story in that there are actually three stories braided together.  Story number one is about a fifth grade class reading a novel together.  One of the student's mother reads the first chapter and the last chapter and assumes the story is a gay romance and takes steps to get the book banned from school, prompting a lot of conversation at school but very little at home.  The second is passages of the adventure book and the third is a completely unrelated coming of age gay romance, which is tied into the the first story at the end of the end of book.  It seemed to be targeted at middle grade students and I think the book could prompt some interesting discussions.  I found the jumping between stories confusing and I can only assume if I found it confusing, it would be confusing for kids as well.  It was hard to keep track of the characters and I was about halfway through before I really figured out who was who and why.  I also thought that although this will probably prompt a lot of conversations, I wouldn't even be able to consider putting a book like this in my elementary library at the moment because of the political situation in my community.  I didn't like it enough to try to fight for it.
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Wow! This book had me hooked from page one! In this era of "book banning" this book is so important for young adults to read! I love how the chapters tell the story in thirds...that way, a broader image can be painted into the reader's mind. I think it's so important for middle grade children to see how easy it is for things to get blown up by one parent,even if that parent doesn't feel like they are doing any harm. This book is fabulous and I feel young adults will love it!
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This book was one I picked up and didn’t put down. It had likeable characters, a cause to root for, and key discussion points. I definitely recommend it!
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David Levithan is always in the forefront when it comes to issues important to kids, and it is evident that Answers in the Pages is also personally significant to him.
The story is told in three interwoven strands. First the stage is set in Mr. Howe’s fifth grade when a parent picks up an assigned book and decides the possibility that there are gay characters makes this novel inappropriate for young students. She mounts a challenge which takes over the town. This part of the story is told by the woman’s son who, although originally fearful of contradicting his mother, soon joins with the rest of his class to support their teacher and the book.
Another story line involves 2 boys, also fifth graders at the same school and their developing friendship through the year.
The third strand presents chapters from the book The Adventurers which initiated the whole controversy. The book is full of action and drama but also describes a close friendship between two of the main characters.
Levithan’s book couldn’t have come at a better time as schools and libraries are currently battling both parents who think they have the best interests of their children at heart, as well as political forces with their own agenda. Levithan does a pretty good job of not painting the mother as a total control freak, but it is certainly clear how he feels about this issue. At the school board meeting he presents both the opinions of those concerned that the book is inappropriate for fifth graders and those who think homosexuality is a sin.. He does not linger on any one speaker but he makes the ultimate decision seem like a reasonable result of the town discussion.
I couldn’t help wonder if this book about a challenged book would face some challenges of its own. In the meantime I think kids who read this will see a reflection of their own culture with some pretty insightful writing. I think some of the intimate scenes would have been very awkward for me as a fifth grader but I know children are maturing earlier these days no matter what some old folks prefer not to acknowledge.
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Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Children’s for the ARC of this, I alternated between reading it and listening to the audio from my library. 

This short and sweet book gave me all the feels, and I was tearing up by the end. I was so happy to see how it was resolved, as someone who grew up queer and who’s parents could’ve been the first to fight a book like this if they’d wanted to - for all their strict religious views, the one thing my parents did right, in my opinion, was not censor my reading. I loved the alternating chapters between The Adventurers, Gideon and Roberto, and Donovan (who’s Mom is trying to get The Adventurers removed from their class’ reading)
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I received a copy of this story from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've long been a fan of David's work so I was very excited to receive a copy of this book. I knew from the premise that I would enjoy it but I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. Seriously, everyone should read this book!

It's topical. Banned books, banned topics of conversation, banned subject material is an incredibly unfortunate part of the world we live in. This book does a beautiful job of portraying that experience through the eyes of the children people are trying to protect. I find it admirable that the book clearly sides with the children but doesn't vilify the parents. It seeks understanding on all levels, even while disagreeing.

I love the multiple, interlocking story lines. Donovan, Rick and Oliver, Gideon and Roberto - their stories are all important and valuable. And it was amazing to see it all come together. I do wish the setting for this story had remained vague, to keep the sense of anywhereness, but I recognize that that might have been difficult. 

I wish I had had a book like this as a kid. There's such an appreciation for identity - all identities - and knowing yourself at any age that I would have treasured. It makes my queer heart so happy to read. Yes, this story is about middle school age kids but there's an accessibility that works for all ages.

I cannot recommend this book enough!
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Levithan has written a middle grade novel about 2 5th grade boys who become friends, then something a little more, at the same time that the book their class has been assigned to read is being challenged by one of their parents. This book joins a growing pantheon of children's literature that respectfully tells kids about the LGBTQIA+ experience in an age-appropriate way. Kids will learn a bit about book challenges too--that there should be a process for schools and libraries to handle them. Review from e-galley.
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Misleading.  Only some of the answers are in the pages.  Some aren’t there because the questions are the wrong one.  There are a lot of questions when 5th grade students come home with a book about adventure.  Only because the boys profess their love for each other.  No mention of what kind of love.  That is to the reader to decide.  And their parents, some of whom do not want their children to make that decision.  

Look, I get it.  You want to control your kids and what they experience.  It can be hard to lose that control.  Donovan’s mom argues she should be the only one to decide what her son reads about.  She argues he is not ready for the “themes” of the book.  I’m a parent.  The teacher argues that representation matters.  All children should know they are a normal part of the world.  They are not to be ashamed of who they are and what they feel.  This cannot be left up to parents.  I see this, too. I’m a teacher. 

In the end, the story is about love.  When can children know about love?  Most parents are surprised by what their children know, by what they understand, and by what they think about the world around them.  The answers are in the pages, to the important questions.
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Highly recommend!! My first book to read by this author but definitely not my last!! Uniquely and beautifully written, this story and its characters stay with you long after you finish the book.
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