2009 Finalists: Young Adult Fiction

Blue Plate Special
by Michelle D. Kwasney
Chronicle Books
Nominated by: Jo Knowles

With Blue Plate Special, Michelle Kwasney has crafted a finely woven plot where the threads of three lives in three different decades create an emotional and gripping tapestry.  The depth of that tapestry builds as threads are broken, severed and tied back together.  It is about how one teen’s present is also the past of those who came before her; how the leftovers must be turned into the daily special on a life-long scale.  The complexity, the attention to details, the individuality of voice, and each character’s hopefulness and determination in the face of strife, make this a sometimes harrowing, though ultimately uplifting and unforgettable novel.
Jackie Parker

Carter Finally Gets It
by Brent Crawford
Disney Press
Nominated by: Heather Kemp

Picked for its laugh-out-loud raunchy hilariousness and for its
larger-than-life heart, Carter Finally Gets It tells the story of Will Carter’s
freshman year in excruciatingly embarrassing–yet extremely funny,
because it’s not us–detail. Guys will recognize themselves and girls
will recognize–and maybe even begin to understand–the guys they know.
Leila Roy

Cracked Up to Be
by Courtney Summers
Nominated by: Robin Prehn

Parker Fadley is snarky, witty and formerly perfect.  Her voice
is as unique as the pain motivating her prickly actions.  While some
might think it’s just teen angst, as the layers peel off through flashbacks the real reason behind her sudden change is revealed.  Brilliantly paced and mysterious, you will be left guessing until the
end, all the while falling in love with a broken–and very angry teen.
Sarah Woodard

How To Say Goodbye In Robot
by Natalie Standiford
Nominated by: Mary Kole

A quirky, strange and utterly smile-inducing novel on forming bonds, falling in love, and walking away empty-handed.  Brimming with a character-driven plot, the reader is able to
watch Beatrice and Jonah, both on the lower end of the social
spectrum, dance a strange two-step of romance, friendship and
heartbreak.  Intermixed with comical episodes of a late-night radio
program and a bit of a mystery, the reader will finish this book and
have experienced laugh-out-loud moments, some eyebrow raising and a
dash of melancholy.
Amanda Snow

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder
by Julie Halpern
Feiwel & Friends
Nominated by: Sara Grochowski

High school is tough enough without being labeled a nerd.  But defying
stereotypes, discovering who you are, and redefining friendships are
only a few of the elements that make Into the Wild Nerd Yonder an
atypical reading experience.  Throw in a longtime crush that ends in
disaster, best friends who betray you, and a little D&D and you will
be hooked on Jessie’s high school year.  The humor is standout, the
main character, Jessie, is refreshing and snarky, and the writing
makes it all come together beautifully.  Whether you were a D&D player
in high school or the Prom Queen, this book captures all the drama,
tension and joy that can come with finding your place and defining
who you are.  Watch out world, nothing and no one is holding Jessie
back anymore.
Sarah Wethern

North of Beautiful
by Justina Chen
Little, Brown
Nominated by: Torey Yates

North of Beautiful tries to answer the age-old question – What is true beauty?  Terra Cooper is artistic, athletic, and according to everyone who knows her, beautiful.  That doesn’t change the fact that she has spent her entire life learning to live with the port-wine birthmark that covers the right side of her face.  Raised by a domineering father and less-than-supportive mother, Terra’s amazing determination and self-esteem help her when most would simply give up.  Chen has artfully created a cast of characters that provide variety and depth to this coming-of-age novel.  She intertwines their lives using emotional yet realistic connections.   Terra’s story encompasses so many issues, readers from all backgrounds and experiences are sure to take some meaning away from this book.
Sally Kruger

by Laurie Halse Anderson
Nominated by: Jeni Bell

What came to the panelists’ attention the most was just how daring and
engrossing Wintergirls is.  Lia herself is a hypnotizing narrator: her
blunt honesty draws you near, only to twist your heart as she delves
deeper into the finer points of her disease and reveals her secret
plots to become thin, which, in Anderson’s style, manages not to seem
completely crazy and twisted, and will allow readers to identify with
Lia on some levels.  This book is not only about anorexia, but family,
grief, suffering, and, ultimately, living, which is what compelled us
to shortlist it.
Tirzah Price