National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

When you write your first novel, you do not expect it to be short-listed for the National Book Award!  Erika L. Sánchez, a daughter of Mexican immigrants from Cicero, Illinois, at first had her novel rejected because agents found her teenage heroine too angry and sarcastic.


I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Call Number: Fic S209i           Publication Date: 2017

When the sister who delighted their parents by her faithful embrace of Mexican culture dies in a tragic accident, Julia, who longs to go to college and move into a home of her own, discovers from mutual friends that her sister may not have been as perfect as believed. National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature, 2017. Tomás Rivera Book Award Winner for Older Readers/Young Adult, 2018

Sherman Alexie* won the National Book Award for his first novel, sort of like hitting a home run during your first at-bat.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Call Number: Fic A384a


Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Readers have laughed and cried through this well-written book that mirrors the author’s life. Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington, about 50 miles northwest of Spokane.

*(Sidenote: Alexie has been accused of the sexual harassment of several women and there are ongoing questions. See this NPR article from March 2018). 

Neal Shusterman had a long history in YA Literature prior to winning his award – you may remember the popular Unwind series, in which teens are turned in for their parts!


Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman; Brendan Shusterman (Illustrator)
Call Number: Children’s Collection Fic S5626c

Based partly on the true experiences of the author’s son, who is also the book’s illustrator. For 14-year-old Caden Bosch, his gradual descent into schizophrenia is a quest to reach the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest place on Earth.

–Submitted by Mary Spevecek, Reference Librarian

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