Challenged as appropriate reading for Oakland, CA High School honors class (1984) due to the work's "sexual and social explicitness" and its "troubling ideas about race relations, man's relationship to God, African history, and human sexuality." After nine months of haggling and delays, a divided Oakland Board of Education gave formal approval for the book's use.
Rejected for purchase by the Hayward, CA school's trustee (1985) because of "rough language" and "explicit sex scenes."
Removed from the open shelves of the Newport News, VA school library (1986) because of its "profanity and sexual references" and placed in a special section accessible only to students over the age of 18 or who have written permission from a parent. Challenged at the public libraries of Saginaw, MI (1989) because it was “too sexually graphic for a 12-year-old.”
Challenged as a summer youth program reading assignment in Chattanooga, TN (1989) because of its language and "explicitness."
Challenged as an optional reading assigned in Ten Sleep, WY schools (1990).
Challenged as a reading assignment at the New Burn, NC High School (1992) because the main character is raped by her stepfather.
Banned in the Souderton, PA Area School District (1992) as appropriate reading for 10th graders because it is "smut." Challenged on the curricular reading list at Pomperaug High School in Southbury, CT (1995) because sexually explicit passages aren’t appropriate high school reading.
Retained as an English course reading assignment in the Junction City, OR high school (1995) after a challenge to Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel caused months of controversy. Although an alternative assignment was available, the book was challenged due to "inappropriate language, graphic sexual scenes, and book's negative image of black men."
Challenged at the St. Johns County Schools in St. Augustine, FL (1995). Retained on the Round Rock, TX Independent High School reading list (1996) after a challenge that the book was too violent.
Challenged, but retained, as part of the reading list for Advanced Placement English classes at Northwest High Schools in High Point, NC (1996). The book was challenged because it is "sexually graphic and violent."
Removed from the Jackson County, WV school libraries (1997) along with sixteen other titles. Challenged, but retained as part of a supplemental reading list at the Shawnee School in Lima, OH (1999). Several parents described its content as vulgar and "X-rated."
Removed from the Ferguson High School library in Newport News, VA (1999). Students may request and borrow the book with parental approval.
Challenged, along with seventeen other titles in the Fairfax County, VA elementary and secondary libraries (2002), by a group called Parents Against Bad Books in Schools. The group contends the books "contain profanity and descriptions of drug abuse, sexually explicit conduct, and torture.”
Challenged in Burke County (2008) schools in Morganton, NC by parents concerned about the homosexuality, rape, and incest portrayed in the book.