Can’t Tell You Who Will Win
The Prize for Young Adult Fiction: Shortlist 2008
The shortlist reflects the progressive, adventurous and challenging writing that enlivens Young Adult literature. We looked for high degrees of originality, sophistication of structure, depth of characterisation and effective use of language, as well as that intangible ‘magnetic factor’ that draws a reader irresistibly on through a book.
A significant number of entries for the prize were deemed most suitable for a slightly younger readership. Particularly outstanding among these were Leonie Norrington’s sparkling Leaving Barrumbi, Kim Kane’s quirky and original Pip: The Story of Olive and Marion Roberts’ energetic and charming Sunny Side Up.
Judges: Anna Ryan-Punch (Convenor), Simmone Howell and Kirsty Murray
Alyssa Brugman’s deeply involving novel is a riveting journey into an injured teenage psyche. When Mackenzie volunteers to do a ‘solo’ on her wilderness camp, 24 hours alone in the bush doesn’t seem such a difficult prospect. But left alone with her thoughts, carefully repressed and mis-remembered events begin to catch up with her, and the truth of her past begins to surface. Mackenzie herself is an attention-grabbing voice, an intriguingly variable mixture of hardness, vulnerability and dry humour. Alongside her, (but not always on her side) the reader slowly unravels the truth of her history in this compelling psychological mystery that packs a real punch.
Justin D’Ath’s Pool is a beautifully modulated novel that explores adolescent transitions and discoveries in seamless prose. Sixteen-year-old Wolfgang Mulqueen works at the public swimming pool in New Lourdes, Victoria, where pilgrims from across the world travel to test the waters’ curative powers. In the course of a long hot summer, Wolfgang is forced to confront his own strengths and limitations. D’Ath juxtaposes intriguing characters, metaphors and events – a blind girl, a black butterfly, a tragic 18-year-old mystery – to create a truly original work. Pool is a powerful and moving novel about love, death, faith and family.
Tomorrow All Will Be Beautiful
Tomorrow All Will Be Beautiful is a stunning collection of fiction, memoir, poetry and correspondence. Brigid Lowry connects perfect futures, painful pasts and an uncertain present with humour and compassion. Patients at an adolescent psych ward attempt to make their great escape. On a school oval two 15-year-old girls face the awful truth. Toby’s gone north to join the circus; Beautiful Alice lives in a Bedford truck; and at the Frangipani Cafe no one’s getting served what they really want. At once playful and profound, Tomorrow is a window into the strange, beautiful truth about the awkward years of adolescence.