2013 Alex Award Winners:
by Mark Slouka
The year is 1968. The world is changing, and sixteen-year-old Jon Mosher is determined to change with it. Racked by guilt over his older brother's childhood death and stuck in the dead-end town of Brewster, New York, he turns his rage into victories running track. Meanwhile, Ray Cappicciano, a rebel as gifted with his fists as Jon is with his feet, is trying to take care of his baby brother while staying out of the way of his abusive, ex-cop father. When Jon and Ray form a tight friendship, they find in each other everything they lack at home, but it's not until Ray falls in love with beautiful, headstrong Karen Dorsey that the three friends begin to dream of breaking away from Brewster for good. Freedom, however, has its price. As forces beyond their control begin to bear down on them, Jon sets off on the race of his life-a race to redeem his past and save them all.
THE DEATH OF BEES
by Lisa O’Donnell
Marnie and her little sister, Nelly, are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren't telling. While life in Glasgow's Maryhill housing estate isn't grand, the girls do have each other. Besides, it's only a year until Marnie will be considered an adult and can legally take care of them both. As the New Year comes and goes, Lennie, the old man next door, realizes that his young neighbors are alone and need his help. Or does he need theirs? Lennie takes them in – feeds them, clothes them, protects them – and something like a family forms. But soon enough, the sisters' friends, their teachers, and the authorities start asking tougher questions. As one lie leads to another, dark secrets about the girls' family surface, creating complications that threaten to tear them apart.
GOLDEN BOY: A NOVEL
by Abigail Tarttelin
Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic. Karen, Max’s mother, is a highly successful criminal lawyer, determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years. She worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband, Steve, has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.
The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he’s starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really?
HELP FOR THE HAUNTED
by John Searles
It begins with a call one snowy February night. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation: helping "haunted souls" find peace. And yet something in Sylvie senses that this call is different from the others, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church's red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep, only to wake to the sound of gunfire. As the story weaves back and forth through the years leading up to that night and the months following, the ever-inquisitive Sylvie searches for answers and uncovers secrets that have haunted her family for years.
LEXICON: A NOVEL
by Max Barry
At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren’t taught history, geography, or mathematics – they are taught to persuade. Students learn to use language to manipulate minds, wielding words as weapons. The very best graduate as “poets,” and enter a nameless organization of unknown purpose.
Whip-smart runaway Emily Ruff is making a living from three-card Monte on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization’s recruiters. Drawn in to their strange world, which is populated by people named Brontë and Eliot, she learns their key rule: That every person can be classified by personality type, his mind segmented and ultimately unlocked by the skilful application of words. For this reason, she must never allow another person to truly know her, lest she herself be coerced. Adapting quickly, Emily becomes the school’s most talented prodigy, until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love.
Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Parke is brutally ambushed by two men in an airport bathroom. They claim he is the key to a secret war he knows nothing about, that he is an “outlier,” immune to segmentation. Attempting to stay one step ahead of the organization and its mind-bending poets, Wil and his captors seek salvation in the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, which, if ancient stories are true, sits above an ancient glyph of frightening power.
LIVES OF TAO
by Wesley Chu
When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it. He wasn't. He now has a passenger in his brain - an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions - the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix - the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that's what it takes. Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that's going to end up well...
MOTHER MOTHER: A NOVEL
by Koren Zailckas
Josephine Hurst has her family under control: two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband and a historical landmark home. But living in this matriarch's determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn't been easy for her family. When her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison. Resentful of her sister's newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in the psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother Will shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Recently diagnosed with Aspergers and epilepsy, he's separated from the other kids around town and is homeschooled to ensure his safety. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of the bottle-an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family's impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.
by Lucy Knisley
Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe - many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original inventions.
THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY: A NOVEL
by Katja Millay
Two and a half years after an unspeakable tragedy left her a shadow of the girl she once was, Nastya Kashnikov moves to a new town determined to keep her dark past hidden and hold everyone at a distance. But her plans only last so long before she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the one person as isolated as herself: Josh Bennett. Josh's story is no secret. Every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space. Everyone except Nastya who won't go away until she's insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But as the undeniable pull between them intensifies, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she's been hiding-or if he even wants to.
THE UNIVERSE VERSUS ALEX WOODS
by Gavin Extence
Alex Woods was struck by a meteorite when he was ten years old, leaving scars that marked him for an extraordinary life. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, he hasn't had the most conventional childhood. When he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who teaches him that that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count. So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at Dover customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the passenger seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he's fairly sure he's done the right thing.
The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. For more information, please visit the American Library Association's Alex Awards page.