Book deemed ‘pornographic’ removed from school

by Dennis Dalman

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A novel entitled “Him” has roused the hackles of several Sartell-St. Stephen school board members at its Jan. 23 meeting, and three board members, raising their voices in anger, called the book “hard-core pornography.”

Some parents, too, expressed outrage about the novel in the school.

The book (apparently there is only one copy of it at the high school) will be removed. “Him” was never approved as part of the learning process, and no one seemed to know how it came to be in the school or who, if anyone, authorized it.

“I’d like to see it in a dumpster fire,” said school board member Jen Smith, calling it a “horrible book.”

The other board members who expressed outrage at the book and its contents are Emily Larson, Scott Wenshau and Trish Meling.

Superintendent Jeff Ridlehoover noted the book is not in circulation and has not been checked out by students.

“Just the fact it’s even in our district is wrong,” Smith replied.

“This book does not belong on school bookshelves,” Wenshau said. “Some parents are pissed off about it existing here.”

“This is an emergency,” Larson said. “It (that book) does not belong here.”

During the meeting, a parent read aloud part of a scene from the novel, which describes in detail a sexual encounter between two young male hockey players that includes repeated use of the “F” word and several mentions of body parts.

A number of parents have also expressed shock and dismay at the school board about the book.

First published in 2015, “Him” was written by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy, best-selling authors who have collaborated on other books, including several known as “male/male romance novels.”

“Him” is narrated by the alternating points of view of its two main characters: Jamie Canning and Ryan Wesley, two avid hockey players. When they were both 18 at a hockey camp, they had a sexual encounter when they were inebriated.

Some years later, they are set to face off in a national hockey championship, and thus they meet again and re-establish a relationship.

(For more details about this story, see the printed version in the Feb. 3 Sartell-St. Stephen Newsleader.)

photo from
This is the cover of “Him,” a male/male romance novel that has outraged some school-board members and parents in the Sartell-St. Stephen school district. The novel contains several scenes of explicit sex between the two main characters, who are hockey players and who try to repair a friendship after some years apart. There was apparently only one copy of the book at Sartell High School. It’s been removed, and no one is certain as to how the book came to be in the school.

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