My eyes grew wide in the dimly lit car as I read this book. Firstly, there were the predictable sexist stereotypes of the era; the author was always quick to point out that of the three triplets, only the girls giggled, or primped their hair, while it was always the boy who led the plans for the three. Then I shook my head as the family cook "Rosebud" served the family dinner before she could return home, only providing enough dialogue (speak only when spoken to) for the reader to know that she's black (in case there is any doubt, the dialogue is written in "black-servant-language"). Then finally, right at the end of chapter one an empassioned reference to Jesus and prayer - not that there is anything wrong with that in itself but I really felt like this book was becoming a stereotype of itself. The nice Christian family and their black cook in 1945 America, where girls were pretty and boys were rough and ready...
Just at that moment there was a knock on the car window and a brief conversation ensued with my friend the music teacher. Without thinking about it I gave the book to my friend - "Here, would you like this ridiculous book? I have another at home". It was a strange choice, I know, to give someone a book I knew I didn't like and one that I knew they wouldn't like either. But as an historical text, I just thought it was so interesting and thought in that moment to share not just my thoughts, but the offensive book itself. I do have another in the "Triplet" series on my purple book cart at home and I might revisit it one day, but for today I have these questions:
* What can problematic books teach us about the world?
* Should they be shared as part of a conversation? Or at all?
* If I had to get rid of a book I found problematic, by donating it to charity aren't I just giving the problematic message to someone else?
* With a book like this, how hard would it be to have a conversation with someone who loved this book?
* Would my grandmother have loved this book?
* Why was my first reaction to this book to shove it out the window of my car?
* Do I have a duty to read books like this one too, so that I can properly engage in conversation about them?
I maintain that having a book in the car for those waiting times is still better than Facebook, and sharing a book through the window of a car (even a problematic one) is a thousand times cooler than sharing a Donald Trump meme on Facebook (equally problematic though). What do you think? What's the most problematic book you've ever read, and what was your reaction to it?