The American Library Association‘s Young Adult Services Association (YALSA) has selected five books as finalists for its 2014 William C. Morris Award, which honors a book written for young adults by a previously unpublished author. The winner of the award will be named at the Youth Media Awards on January 27 during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.
The list includes In the Shadow of Blackbirds (Amulet) by Cat Winters, a School Library Journal star book and Best Book of 2013 in the fiction category. Set in 1918 San Diego during WWI and the flu pandemic, the well-paced tale includes deliciously creepy explorations of Spiritualism.
The other 2014 finalists are:
Charm & Strange (St. Martin’s Griffin), by Stephanie Kuehn, is the story of a boy has been isolated in a New Hampshire boarding school since he was 12. Though he is a gifted student and athlete, he hides a horrific secret within himself.
Sex & Violence (Carolrhoda), by Carrie Mesrobian, is the story of a boy with no friends and no respect for girls. But after he survives a brutal attack, he reevaluates his life and learns how to “accept responsibility, but not blame.”
Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets (Houghton Mifflin), by Evan Roskos, is the story of an anxious, depressed, and quirky teen boy who converses with an unusual and imaginary therapist—a pigeon named Dr. Bird.
Belle Epoque (Delacrote), by Elizabeth Ross, is the story of a teen girl working in Paris as a “repoussoir”—a foil for society’s elite who believe a plain face alongside them makes them look more beautiful.
YALSA will promote the books via the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge, which begins December 9.