Author: George Orwell
Summary: In the midst of an ultra-controlling society full of lies and contradictions, the main character Winston begins to think for himself. He falls in love (which is forbidden by the government) and begins noticing the flaws of his society. However, "Big Brother" (This phrase originated with this novel.) is watching Winston, who is soon captured, tortured, and brainwashed. The book has an unsettling ending, which I won't spoil for you, but which really makes you think about the role of government.
Why it's been challenged: The book has been challenged for its sexual content. It's also been challenged for pro-communist material (I don't understand that complaint; in my opinion, the book seemed anti-communist. Maybe I just don't know enough about politics.) (ALA)
If I were still teaching, would I allow my class of high schoolers to read this book? I think I'd allow it. I'd probably inform parents of the suggestive material. The sexual content isn't overly explicit, but it gets steamy a few times. However, I think high school students would really enjoy this book, and it would spark great political discussions and debate. A possible alternative would be George Orwell's Animal Farm. It is also very political, though more from a metaphorical historical point of view, rather than from a hypothetical futuristic point of view. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley would also be a great tie-in, though it also has suggestive material.
Here's a great quote from the book:
"What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?" (262)