The novel's content has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association List of most commonly challenged books in the United States of 1990–1999, at #8. On AFA's list of challenged books from 2000 to 2009, the book ranks at #28. The censorship attempts stem from death being a part of the plot; Jesse's frequent use of the word "lord" outside of prayer; allegations that the book promotes secular humanism, New Age religion, occultism, and Satanism; and for use of offensive language.
The book is often featured in English studies classes in Ireland, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Philippines, Ecuador, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Panama, South Africa and the United States.
It was adapted into a theatrical work by children's book author Stephanie S. Tolan.