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Arts & Culture

John Backderf's 'My Friend Dahmer' and other titles might be banned from school libraries

photo of John Derf
Jeff St. Clair
Author John Backderf takes a picture on Kent State University's campus. His book about his teenage friendship with notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, titled "My Friend Dahmer," is among books students in a school district in North Carolina might not be able to access, if removed from the district's libraries.

A book by a well-known Northeast Ohio author is among those a North Carolina school district is considering removing from its libraries.

An elementary school parent asked the Catawba County schools to remove 24 books, including “My Friend Dahmer” by John Backderf. The graphic novel tells the story of Backderf’s teenage friendship with future serial killer Jeffery Dahmer. He says there’s nothing in it that’s inappropriate for teens.

John Backderf on "My Friend Dahmer"

“There is nothing in that book that is objectionable, in any way," Backderf said. "There is no sex scenes. There is no murders. You know, everything you associate with Dahmer. There are not even any swear words. I purposefully left those out.”

Backderf says most of the time parents are getting lists of targeted books generated elsewhere and asking school districts to review them without knowing what they are about.

Other books on the North Carolina list include “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

A recent report by the American Library Association stated that libraries are at the center of a culture war as conservative groups try to ban materials that address racism, gender, politics, and sexual identity.

Updated: April 7, 2022 at 9:25 AM EDT
This story has been updated to clarify that John Backderf's friendship with Jeffrey Dahmer was from a period before Dahmer became a serial killer.