As noted in my previous post, looking at starred reviews through the end of March there are 21 traditional Printz contenders and 23 outliers. Throw in your books from previous winners and honorees plus buzz books and dark horses and that’s a LOT of books.
Thinking about my reading habits, I know I’m never going to be able to read all of those. I’m already behind on where I wanted to be for my mock award-prep reading, so I thought I would try setting some goals. Therefore, I’m picking three books published in each month to try to read to be at least semi-informed in the mock discussions. Read on to see what I picked from January through April to be added to my TBR pile. Descriptions are from the Palatine Public Library catalog except for where noted.
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
When Mary, a teenager living in a group home, becomes pregnant, authorities take another look at the crime for which Mary was convicted when she was nine years old.
City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
Sixteen-year-old Tina and two friends leave Kenya and slip into the Congo, from where she and her mother fled years before, seeking revenge for her mother’s murder but uncovering startling secrets.
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Secrets are revealed as OCD-afflicted Griffin grieves for his first love, Theo, who died in a drowning accident.
Why These Three: Each of these has four stars. I’m attempting a conscious effort at diversifying my reading this year and as part of that actually purchased copies of Allegedly and History is All You Left Me in January. Then it came down to A List of Cages, The Murderer’s Ape or City of Saints and Thieves and I love a good thriller – plus City of Saints and Thieves was available on Overdrive from my library so I’m now ten or so chapters into that and don’t want to put it down!
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
When Fabiola’s mother is detained upon their arrival to the United States, Fabiola must navigate her loud American cousins, the grittiness of Detroit’s west side, a new school, and a surprising romance all on her own.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
After witnessing her friend’s death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter’s life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
After leaving her life behind to go to college in New York, Marin must face the truth about the tragedy that happened in the final weeks of summer when her friend Mabel comes to visit.
Why These Three: The entire YA world is talking about The Hate U Give so that was a gimmee. I’m about a third of the way through it now in a print copy I bought for myself. There were quite a few possible titles published in February so choices were harder here. I’ve never read Nina LaCour and I’ve been hearing good buzz about We Are Okay so I’m adding it. A friend read American Street and said it was good so it grabbed the third spot.
Bull by David Elliott
A modern twist on the Theseus and Minotaur myth, told in verse.
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
A story set on the American border with Mexico, about family and friendship, life and death, and one teen struggling to understand what his adoption does and doesn’t mean about who he is.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
In the aftermath of a war between gods and men, a hero, a librarian, and a girl must battle the fantastical elements of a mysterious city stripped of its name.
Why These Three: I’ve greatly enjoyed the Laini Taylor I’ve already read and people have been anticipating Strange the Dreamer for a long time now. That only left three other options and Benjamin Alire Sáenz is so well regarded that I picked The Inexplicable Logic of My Life (plus I’m thinking audio for this one which means Lin Manuel-Miranda narrating!). Bull and Honestly Ben felt like a toss-up, so I went with the novel in verse because I’m hoping it will be quicker.
Bang by Barry Lyga
When Sebastian was just four years old, he picked up a gun his father left unattended, and shot and killed his infant sister. With no recollection of the tragic event, the ramifications and guilt still have a profound effect on his daily life. Neither Sebastian nor his parents have been able to fully put their lives back together, and their divorce is yet another after
effect from that day, long ago.
Now fourteen, Sebastian has no hope for the future, and begins to secretly plan his suicide. That is, until he meets his new neighbor, Aneesa. As their friendship grows, so does Sebastian’s reasons for living. With new plans, new hopes, and the ability to let go of the past, Sebastian realizes that maybe he can be happy for once in his life (from the Little, Brown website).
Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr
Gem has never known what it is to have security. She’s never known an adult she can truly rely on. But the one constant in her life has been Dixie. Gem grew up taking care of her sister when no one else could: not their mother, whose issues make it hard for her to keep food on the table, and definitely not their father, whose intermittent presence is the only thing worse than his frequent absence. Even as Gem and Dixie have grown apart, they’ve always had each other. When their dad returns home for the first time in years and tries to insert himself back into their lives, Gem finds herself with an unexpected opportunity: three days with Dixie–on their own in Seattle and beyond. But this short trip soon becomes something more, as Gem discovers that to save herself, she may have to sever the one bond she’s tried so hard to keep.
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers’ lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend—Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, Deborah Heiligman weaves a tale of two lives intertwined and the extraordinary love of the Van Gogh brothers (from the Macmillan website).
Why These Three: Loved I Hunt Killers, so choosing Bang was easy. I have had several Sara Zarr books on my reading pile in the past, but none have every made it to the top so hopefully Gem & Dixie will be the one to finally get there! The final obvious choice would actually be Beck, but I’ve read Mal Peet before and it took me forever and a day to finish Tamar. Instead, even though – March, Book Three notwithstanding – it’s very unusual for non-fiction to get a Printz nod now that the Excellence in Non-Fiction for Young Adults Award exists, I’m going with Vincent and Theo because I always enjoy a good biography.
So what are you reading to prep for the Mock Printz? Have you even started yet or, like me, are you already feeling behind? I’m planning to check back in next month to let you know my progress on reading these and to share my three May picks. Coming up later this week (hopefully): Newbery eligible titles with 3 or more starred reviews! Happy reading!