The Gateway Awards
August 12, 2011
Every year, the Missouri Association of School Librarians awards the Gateway Reader Award to one young adult book. The nominees for this award are selected by members of MASL, but the winner is awarded based on votes from high school students state wide. This summer, I attempted to read all of the nominees, and while I didn’t reach my goal, I got about half way there. The books I have read so far are:
- Fat Cat, by Robin Brande - This book is incredibly honest and funny. The reader follows a high school junior, Cat, as she conducts her science fair experiment on her own body.
- After by Amy Efaw - After is about a teenage girl who dumps her baby after she gives birth. This is more a look at what drove her to commit such an act, the consequences she faces once the baby is found, and her own denial of ever being pregnant. This book is excellent, but certainly isn’t a light read.
- Muchacho by Louanne Johnson - Written by the same woman who wrote Dangerous Minds, Muchacho is about a teenage boy at an alternative high school. He loves to read and clearly isn’t living up to his potential, but when he meets Lupe she changes his life for the better.
- Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan - Typical story about a boy who has a great girlfriend, but also has a best friend who is a girl. When his best friend reveals a secret to him, Blake must struggle to keep her secret and keep his girlfriend from becoming too jealous of his friendship, and keep himself from crossing the line between best friend and romantic intimacy.
- Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick - A gripping novel which recalls the events of a U.S. solider in Iraq. He wakes up in the Army hospital after a traumatic brain injury. While his injury is minor and he is expected to return to duty, he keeps remembering the events around his injury. It is a memory that haunts him and forces him to question if returning to active duty is really a wise decision.
- The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams - Thirteen-year-old Kyra grows up in a polygamist community, has three mothers and twenty siblings. One day, the prophet announces that she is to marry her sixty-year-old uncle and become his seventh wife. Kyra must then make important decisions between her own happiness and loyalty to her church and family.
- Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff - Story of an overweight high school sophomore and how he deals with popularity, girls and his constant desire for food.
So far, my favorite read is Fat Cat, though almost all of these books have been mind-blowingly good. However, if you’re trying to sort out what Gateway books are worth your time, I would skip Flash Burnout. Currently I am reading We Were Here by Matt de la Pena and it is thus far one of my top picks of the nominees.
South Independence Branch