Friday, January 11, 2013

Printz Watch 2013: Wrapping Up, part 1

The 2013 Printz award winners and honorees will be announced this month!  On January 28th, all of the Youth Media Awards will be announced! I'm going to do my best to cover a few more books before then and then talk about my predictions and thoughts right before the announcements.

Anna Jarzab wrote All Unquiet Things, which y'all obviously love, because it's constantly checked out. So when I got an opportunity to read an early copy of her new one, The Opposite of Hallelujah, I jumped at it.  It's about Caro.  Caro's much older sister Hannah left home years and years ago.  Caro barely remembers her and she feels a lot like an only child--and she's fine with that.  But all of a sudden, Hannah is returning and Caro's world is turned upside down.  Guys, I loved All Unquiet Things, but this book is a completely different story.  It is quiet and personal and lovely.  Hannah has been living in a convent, which is mystifying to Caro, and Hannah won't talk about what sent her there or why she came back.  Caro is so confused by this behavior that she begins to tell lies about her sister, and she gets caught in them.  But this book isn't about the lies, or about the convent, or even about the hot transfer student that Caro suddenly notices.  It's about family and grief and truth and art and faith and science and relationships.  It's about God. It's about how events affect people.  Caro's relationships with her parents, with Hannah, with Pawal, and with her priest are integral to this story, and as she grapples with understanding all of these things and these people in her life, she starts to understand herself and her sister a little better.  I loved this one and I'm planning to reread it soon.  It didn't get as much recnognition (or starred reviews) as some of the other "big" titles and it's a bit of a dark horse for the Printz, but I certainly think the committee will be taking a look.  Check it out here.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is another one of those haunting stories that stick with you.  Becca has just finished high school and she is ready to get out.  But she's not prepared when her boyfriend dumps her right after graduation.  And she's even less prepared when the broken body of a young woman is found in her small town the same night.  Becca has always been academically driven, ready to leave, to find out what's in the world beyond her small town, but now, even her home is feeling unsafe.  With the whole summer ahead of her, Becca has to figure out what she really wants--and how that relates to Amelia Anne.  Because a lot of the story--both Becca's story and Amelia's story--is told in flashbacks.  Becca latches on to the mystery of Amelia partly because she needs to know how this could happen in her town, but partly to figure out what all of this means for her.  The writing is beautiful.  Becca's uncertainty, heartbreak, terror--they all feel completely genuine.  This is another one that I haven't heard as much Printz buzz about, but it's still wonderful.  Click here to request it.

Well, those two books were fantastic, but they're pretty serious.  Keeping the Castle...isn't.  Althea is the hope of her family.  She must marry well so that they don't starve...and so they can keep the castle that's been in her family for generations.  But there aren't many suitors in her hilariously named English village, Lesser Hoo.  And another problem is that Althea can't seem to keep herself from speaking her mind (much to her mother's chagrin!).  Heaven forbid a potential husband should find out that she's an intelligent, witty woman, in addition to being beautiful!  But then the very rich and very attractive Lord Boring comes to town and Althea is determined to snatch him up.  But he always seems to be in the dreadful company of his cousin and business manager, Mr. Fredericks.  How is a girl supposed to snag a husband with such a bore around?  So this one is a parody of Regency romances like Jane Austen, and has similar overtones to Dodie Smith's classic I Capture the Castle.  It is light-hearted, and honestly, the humor that runs through it makes it a delightful read.  Is it literary enough for the Printz? Probably not, but that doesn't make it any less fun to read! How can you not love a book that opens with these lines:

“I love you Althea—you are so beautiful,” murmured the young man in my ear.

Well, I was willing enough. I looked up at him from under my eyelashes. “I love you too,” I confessed. I averted my gaze and added privately, “You are so rich.”

Unfortunately, I apparently said this out loud, if just barely, and his hearing was sharper than one would expect, given his other attributes.

That's hilarious! Althea is resourceful, smart, and has a sense of humor that you'll love.  Check this one out here

Join me next week where I talk about just a few more Printz-worthy titles!