Last year I had the honor of chairing the William C. Morris YA Debut Award committee. Now that the Midwinter dust has settled and I have had a little time to reflect on my year serving on this committee, I appreciate even more what it taught me about reading and YA literature.
One of the best things about my experience was the fact that every single time I opened a book, I had no idea what I was going to find. Sure, there was plenty of hype about certain titles and sometimes you really can judge a book by its cover but, for the most part, each and every book was a surprise. YA librarians pride themselves on knowing as much as they can about teen literature but all that knowledge and experience can sometimes color our opinions and expectations when we read; who hasn’t compared an author’s newest book to the ones that came before it? Because the Morris Award is given only to debut authors, though, committee members are delightfully free of any preconceived notions we might have about authors or their work; our only concern with each book was whether or not it was good. For the four finalists and winning title, the answer was a resounding “yes.”
If you haven’t had a chance to read any of the the Morris finalists or the winning title, I hope you will find time to do so. All five are complex and engaging stories with rich voices that will speak to teens. These five authors represent not only the best debut books of 2010, but some of the best fiction published for teens.
Chair, William C. Morris YA Debut Award 2011
Currently reading Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly