I didn’t even realise the Australian Children’s Book Week awards were happening until I strolled into my library and ran face-to-face with the display. And better yet?! I’d read 5 out of 6 of the Young Adult short listed books! GO ME. (Clearly I’ve got monstrously good taste in books.)
So obviously we need to have a quick perusal of the books that were shortlisted so you know what you’re getting into when you dash out to buy them. And you’ll be blessed with my ever-fabulous commentary on if I think the books deserve there places or not.
Let’s do this!
THE PROTECTED by Claire Zorn [purchase]
This is the overall winner! And I totally think it deserves the place because it’s an absolutely heartbreaking story about loss and sisters and bullying. I maybe possibly bawled while reading it. Ergo you need to try this heart-wrenching story.
The story is told backwards. You begin knowing Hannah’s sister, Katie, is dead. You see pain, tears, the family falling apart. BUT WHY?! WHAT HAPPENED? Answers beg to be found. I basically just read the whole thing in two sittings and I just ached for Hannah’s pain.
ARE YOU SEEING ME? by Darren Groth [purchase]
This. book. is. INCREDIBLE. I actually liked it more than The Protected, but it’s actually set in Canada even though it’s about two Aussie siblings. It’s narrated by twins, Justine and Perry — and Perry has autism. They’re on a roadtrip/holiday before school ends and their lives change forever. It’s totally sweet and kind of sad at the same time. It’s about letting go and moving on and also earthquakes. Because Perry’s obsessed with them.
Also if you sneak over to the author’s website, he’s blogged about how he wrote this book for his daughter and his son (who has autism) and isn’t that incredibly sweet?! IT IS. Oh gosh.
THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CINNAMON GIRL by Melissa Keil [purchase]
Wow, just wow. This book is basically for anyone and everyone about to finish highschool and wondering WHAT THE HECK DO I DO WITH MY LIFE. (And possibly breaking down sobbing occasionally.) It’s also for people who like cakes, because so. much. cake. in. this. book. (It’s glorious.) I have to confess: THIS would be my pick to be the winner. It’s set in this tiny outback town which some crackpot has prophesied is the only “safe place” when the “apocalypse” happens. It’s about growing up and potentially losing friends and family.
And Alba, the narrator, is just the most fabulous thing to ever enter a YA book. She draws! She’s not skinny! She bakes! She’s a writer! I BASICALLY THINK SHE’S THE BEST.
THE MINNOW by Diana Sweeney [purchase]
This book is beautifully written. But also kind of confusing. If you’re a black-and-white thinker (like yours truly), you might have trouble with it? But I won’t deny how lyrical the prose is! It’s about Tom, who is actually a girl despite her nickname, who’s 14 when she gets pregnant. She basically has no family, her town has barely survived a flood, and she doesn’t know anything about being a parent.
The ending will probably stab you in the feels. Just sayin’.
And isn’t the cover the most exquisite thing you’ve ever seen!??
NONA AND ME by Clare Atkins [purchase]
Again with the cover love! Australian designers totally outdo themselves with covers I kind of want to hug or eat or something. Ahem. ANYWAY!
This one is set in the Northern Territory and is about Indigenous Australian life, narrated by Rosie. It’s a gorgeous tale, with nice writing and a heart-tugging message about racism, with some fabulous character development. It also adequately sums up how STINKIN’ HOT it is in the Northern Territory.
I didn’t love it, however, because I found Rosie very self-centred (although she does grow throughout the book) and I really wish there’d be more focus on Nona, who was Indigenous. I mean it’s NONA and Me, right?! More Nona! Plus Rosie has a boyfriend who’s sickeningly racist and ugh. Lots of righteous indignation reading this one.
INTRUDER by Christine Bongers [purchase]
This is the only one I haven’t read! I hadn’t even heard of it.
From the blurb it’s about Kat Jones, who has someone scary unknown intruder after her, and who ends up getting a dog to protect her. It doesn’t grab me but it’s compared to Fiona Wood and Cath Crowley’s books and they are totally the QUEENS of Australian YA. So who am I to say no before I try Intruder?! It’s on my to-do list.