The nominees are (synopses courtesy of The Reading Room):
- Laurie Halse Anderson for The Impossible Knife of Memory
For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?
- Gail Giles for Girls Like Us
Quincy and Biddy are both graduates of their high school’s special ed program, but they couldn’t be more different: suspicious Quincy faces the world with her fists up, while gentle Biddy is frightened to step outside her front door. When they’re thrown together as roommates in their first “real world” apartment, it initially seems to be an uneasy fit. But as Biddy’s past resurfaces and Quincy faces a harrowing experience that no one should have to go through alone, the two of them realize that they might have more in common than they thought — and more important, that they might be able to help each other move forward.
- Carl Hiaasen for Skink—No Surrender
Typical Malley – to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard – he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink – he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets and giant gators. With Skink at the wheel, the search for a missing girl is both nail-bitingly tense and laugh-out-loud funny.
- Kate Milford for Greenglass House
It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House–and themselves.
- Eliot Schrefer for Threatened
Into the jungle. Into the wild. Into harm’s way. When he was a boy, Luc’s mother would warn him about the “mock men” living in the trees by their home — chimpanzees whose cries would fill the night. Luc is older now, his mother gone. He lives in a house of mistreated orphans, barely getting by. Then a man calling himself Prof comes to town with a mysterious mission. When Luc tries to rob him, the man isn’t mad. Instead, he offers Luc a job. Together, Luc and Prof head into the rough, dangerous jungle in order to study the elusive chimpanzees. There, Luc finally finds a new family — and must act when that family comes under attack.
- Steve Sheinkin for The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution. A fascinating story of the prejudice that faced black men and women in America’s armed forces during World War II.
- Andrew Smith for 100 Sideways Miles
Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved. Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.
- John Corey Whaley for Noggin
Listen—Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t. Now he’s alive again. Simple as that. The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but Travis can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still sixteen, but everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too. Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, there are going to be a few more scars. Oh well, you only live twice.
- Deborah Wiles for Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two
It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town, Greenwood, Mississippi, is being invaded. So is her home. Her daddy got married last summer, and her house filled up with a new stepmother, Annabelle, a new brother, Gillette, and a new sister, Audrey. Sunny’s new family has been growing together, but when Gillette tattles to her father, things grow chilly between them. Greenwood has been tense and chilly too, but that’s because students and “agitators” from up north have driven down in buses for a Freedom Summer to help register citizens in the town to vote. Everyone in the town, from the churches to the schools to the movie theaters, has been choosing sides, and Sunny suddenly understands how scary it can be to help people out, even when you know you’re doing good.
- Jacqueline Woodson for Brown Girl Dreaming
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child.
Five finalists will be announced on October 15, and the winner will be named at the National Book Awards ceremony on November 19. The nominees for Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction will be released later this week.
Congratulations to all the nominees!