Book too sexually graphic for teen girl. Should she be required to read it?
Update: Marí Mercado won't have to read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle after all. And she won't have to take a reduced score on her required International Baccalaureate world literature essay, either.
Marí's father, Rafael, told the Gradebook that he sat with officials from Gulf High School this afternoon, and they agreed to give his daughter a new novel for her assignment.
We don't yet what book the school will require her to read, but we'd like to know your suggestions. Offer your ideas and tell us why.
Marí Mercado, ranked in the top 10 of her International Baccalaureate class at Gulf High School, refused to read an assigned book because she deemed parts of it too sexually graphic. "Eww, gross," she said about Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
Her parents agreed that Murakami's book — described in part by Publisher's Weekly as a detective story that moves to "explicit sexual fantasy" — was pornographic and notified school officials that their daughter would not complete an assignment on the book.
School officials say that choice puts Mari at risk of not being granted an IB diploma.
Marí has received recruitment letters from Yale and MIT, but she says she's willing to give up on the prestigious IB program if it comes down to her being required to read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.
"It's not fair that I have to read something that I'm totally against," she said. "If I have to drop out of IB, that's something I have to do. I'm not going to read the book."
Tampabay.com readers have posted more than 170 comments about Marí's dilemma, many encouraging her to open her mind and read the book. Still some have come to her defense, saying the school should offer her an alternative.
Alyssa, a St. Petersburg High IB alumna, wrote:"It is exceedingly difficult to find world-class literature that does not incorporate sexual imagery and themes, and she is no more a child now than she will be her first year at Yale. She should be mature enough to understand the symbolism by now."
"I don't think that a young girl should have sex, but it isn't going to hurt her to read this novel anymore than reading MacBeth would make her violent," wrote BadBill from Tallahassee. " It is a book. She is in an advanced class reflecting greater maturity. She needs to show it."
One of the points of education is to imagine and learn about things you might not otherwise," wrote Dan from Tampa. "It doesn't have to make you happy. But it's part of life."
Amanda from St. Petersburg defended Mercado's stance: "Why should Miss Mercado be forced to read something she finds personally offensive? I would hope that the school would be flexible enough to give students some (albeit limited) choice in what they read."
We want to know what you think: Should the school allow Marí to read another book? Should Mari read it and complete her assignment? What if it was your daughter's assignment?