The award is named in honor of the late Margaret Alexander Edwards, fondly called “Alex” by her closest friends, a pioneer in providing library services to young adults. At Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Edwards used adult books extensively with teens to broaden their experience and enrich their understanding of themselves and their world.
The 2014 Alex Awards has a book for every teen reader. From dysfunctional families to alien-inhabited brains to a savory graphic memoir, this diverse list will not disappoint. The Alex Awards were created to recognize that many teens enjoy and often prefer books written for adults, and to assist librarians in recommending adult books that appeal to teens. A full list of official nominations are available online.
- “Brewster” by Mark Slouka: Feeling stifled and powerless, high school friends Ray Cappicciano and Jon Mosher yearn for change and plan for freedom from their blue-collar town and dysfunctional homes, even while knowing they can never truly escape.
- “The Death of Bees” by Lisa O’Donnell: With their parents dead and buried in the backyard, Scottish teens Marnie and Nelly are finally free from a childhood wracked with abuse. If only the neighbor’s dog would quit digging in the garden.
- “Golden boy: a novel” by Abigail Tarttelin: Max, an intersex teen, is confused about who he is and who he is meant to be. After one shattering night, he is faced with a choice that no boy should ever have to make.
- “Help for the Haunted” by John Searles: Sylvie has been dealing with taunting classmates, her erratic older sister and the unsolved murder of her ghost-hunting parents. But perhaps more problematic are the cursed remnants of her parents’ work still lingering in the basement.
- “Lexicon: a novel” by Max Barry: In this fast-paced, cutthroat story, words are weapons and poets are the ones who wield the swords. Teen prodigy Emily may be the finest poet ever until she makes the catastrophic mistake of falling in love.
- “Lives of Tao” by Wesley Chu: Couch potato Roen Tan becomes host to the alien Tao who has lived millennia inside some of the most famous people in history. With Tao on board, Roen enters a war to save mankind.
- “Mother, mother: a novel” by Koren Zailckas: Why did Rose run away? Did Violet really stab her little brother? Is her alcoholic father really having an affair? In this chilling novel about family dysfunction, does mother really know best?
- “Relish” by Lucy Knisley: This poignant graphic novel is a wonderful journey of cartoonist Lucy Knisley’s transition from childhood, to adolescence, to adulthood, framed by the food that shaped her worldview. Through colorful vignettes she tackles complex issues with humor and unique family recipes.
- “The Sea of Tranquility: a novel” by Katja Millay: Nastya has barely survived a brutal attack. Josh has lost his entire family. The two isolated teens are drawn together as they deal with their emotional and physical damage.
- “The Universe Versus Alex Woods” by Gavin Extence: It all begins when Alex is hit in the head by a meteorite and it all ends when he is arrested trying to re-enter England with several grams of marijuana, lots of cash, and the ashes of Mr. Peterson.
Which of these have you read? Do you have a favorite? What do you think of the list?