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Someday My Printz Will Come
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Pyrite Nomination Results

Happy New Year!

Let’s kick off 2014 right, with the Pyrite nomination results.

There weren’t too many surprises, but here’s the breakdown:

Leading the pack with three people listing it is my own personal frontrunner and favorite, Alaya Dawn Johnson’s sublime The Summer Prince.

Then we had a whole cluster of titles with two votes apiece: Bennett Madison’s September Girls; Tom McNeal’s Far Far Away; Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park; Elizabeth Wein’s Rose Under Fire, Stephanie Kuehn’s Charm & Strange; and of course, Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints, in both cases listed as a single nomination.

And finally, in the one-nod-apiece group: Julie Berry’s All the Truth That’s in Me; Marcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood; Matthew Quick’s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock; Nova Ren Suma’s 17 & Gone; Jim Ottaviani’s Primates; Chris Lynch’s Pieces; Blythe Woolston’s Black Helicopters; Erin Bow’s Sorrow’s Knot; Rick Yancey’s The Final Descent; Patrick Ness’s More Than This; Chris Crutcher’s Period 8; Andrew Smith’s Winger; Susann Cokal’s The Kingdom of Little Wounds; and finally one that hasn’t really come up before, Sandra Neil Wallace’s Muckers.

In the style of the RealPrintz, we won’t vote until we’ve discussed. Comments are open, so have at it!


The Pyrite Printz, or Pyrite, is the Someday My Printz Will Come mock Printz deliberation, and should not in any way be confused with YALSA’s Michael L. Printz Award, often referred to here as the RealPrintz or Printz. Our predictions, conversations, and speculation about potential RealPrintz contenders and winners reflect only our own best guesses and are not affiliated with YALSA or the RealPrintz committee.


About Karyn Silverman

Karyn Silverman is the High School Librarian and Educational Technology Department Chair at LREI, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School (say that ten times fast!). Karyn has served on YALSA’s Quick Picks and Best Books committees and was a member of the 2009 Printz committee. She has reviewed for Kirkus and School Library Journal. She has a lot of opinions about almost everything, as long as all the things are books. Said opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, LREI, YALSA or any other institutions with which she is affiliated. Find her on Twitter @InfoWitch or e-mail her at karynsilverman at gmail dot com.


  1. Karyn Silverman says:

    Some thoughts about books I haven’t written about already…

    The Summer Prince — I keep promising to post in detail soon. I have so many feels and thinks that I keep failing to do the novel justice when I try to write it up. But I think it’s brilliant.

    Far Far Away I just can’t support; I think it treads uneasily between crime novel and fantasy, between fairy tale and contemporary. The unevenness is, for me, a massive structural flaw that takes this one right out of serious contenderness.

    I loved Eleanor & Park, and I know Joy thinks it is a marvel, but from a literary stance it strikes me as slight and sweet. I’d need a lot of convincing to move this from the heart pile to a head pile.

    Rose Under Fire is a marvelous book, and I believe is Sarah’s favorite book this year. But it’s not CNV, which makes it hard for me to assess fairly — and yes, that is pure, personal bias. Also, while it’s great, I’m not sure I think it’s uncommonly great from a literary perspective — I’d need to read it again, in a cleaner copy (I read a poorly formatted e-galley), to see if I think it has what it takes to place in the final five.

    Charm & Strange I read. When I read it, I liked it. But… I can’t remember anything about it, really, which doesn’t bode well.

    We have a guest post coming on All the Truth that’s in Me, which I don’t want to spoil, but I’ll agree with it in advance and say that what kills this one for the Printz in my estimation is the setting, which is hazy and nebulous and detracts from the excellent, passionate writing.

    Leonard Peacock feels too topical to be a serious contender to me, but if it is, I’ll argue til the end that those damn letters from the future kill this one. Also I think the parents are caricatures in ways that don’t work. Minor quibbles from any other perspective, of course, but major issues for printzliness.

    Black Helicopters — I need to write this up, really, because I think it’s pretty damn impressive, but our book club of librarians discussed it and people had serious issues with it — mostly in terms of who the various parties were, but also some plot point issues that were not insignificant in terms of whether it’s in the year’s top five (top 10-15, though, I’d say).

    Sorrow’s Knot: LOVE. On another day this probably would have gotten my third nomination; it’s magical and a powerful story about love and death and storytelling. I am rereading it now so hopefully fuller thoughts will follow.

    Winger: not my book, because… I didn’t find it funny at all, although humor is so subjective. More pertinently, it’s very uneven; is it romance/coming of age or hate crime murder and its aftermath? You could say they go together, but for me the pacing didn’t work and that’s enough to knock this out.

    Your turns!

  2. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME: Is the setting really any more hazy or nebulous than, say, THE RETURNING? I don’t think so.

    SEPTEMBER GIRLS: This was a better (and funnier) book when Melvin Burgess wrote it and it was called DOING IT.

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      I disagree. Twice over.

      All the Truth
      has some specific references that seem to place it in our world or an alternate version of our world. The Returning is secondary world fantasy, even if parts of that world seem drawn from ours. Totally different world-building. You (one) might not like the world-building in The Returning, but it doesn’t cut corners.

      And I thoroughly enjoyed Doing It, but I think that’s much more about masculinity, full stop, whereas September Girls is about that and more — men and women, male gaze, societal expectations and strictures, and it also riffs richly on a fairy tale in ways that add a meta level to the commentary woven through the narrative. Also, so what? In the context of THIS year, September Girls does these things in interesting and admirable ways. Or it doesn’t. But comparing it to an old gem and finding it lacking certainly isn’t a strong enough analysis to convince me.

      • I’m with you, Karyn, on September Girls. The tone blew me away, sad, tired, adolescent, wry, and presented in gorgeous prose. I too was very impressed with the exploration of the traditional fairy tale in a very original way. Outstanding.

        I struggled with the reveal in All the Truth in Me. That is, I found the reasoning behind what Lucas’ father did to Judith to be problematic. That he did it for a good and noble reason — I would have to reread, but it felt contrived and confusing to me. Otherwise, I liked the book and had no problem whatsoever with the setting. In fact, I very much liked the sense of unsettlement it gave you not to know exactly what it was.

      • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

        Of course, I would never mention non 2013 books at the Printz table, and I only do it here as a kind of shorthand. More explanation below.

        ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME: I like the setting for THE RETURNING very much, I just don’t understand how it’s fundamentally any different from that of TRUTH, aside from the references to the Bible. I’m not sure I ever really knew enough about the setting of THE RETURNING to know whether it was a secondary world or not. Does the lack of a concrete reference (like the Bible) make it a secondary world? The ambiguity of the setting in TRUTH is a deliberate choice, and I think it will work for many readers–ditto for the setting in FAR FAR AWAY. (Is it set in the present or the past, this country or another?) Clearly, it doesn’t work for you, and I don’t expect you to support it, but is this a flaw in the book or in the reader?

        SEPTEMBER GIRLS: I don’t understand the big deal about this book. I think it’s a good book; I just don’t understand what makes it a frontrunner for some people. While it has engendered a strong love/hate response from many female readers, most male readers seem relatively indifferent to it. I think Kirkus fundamentally misunderstood the audience when they described this as a boy book. I offered DOING IT as an example of a book that covers the same territory (obviously, I disagree that the scope of the book is as small as you’re claiming it is), but actually is a boy book. Still, what about THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND? I guess, I’m just saying that these themes have been done before, and done better. Maybe not better this year, but those previous reading experiences explain why I can’t get excited about Madison reinventing sliced bread.

      • Karyn Silverman says:

        This reply is actually to Monica but we can only nest 3 deep…

        I think there’s a pulling of punches in All the Truth — the motivation, the fact that she’s never actually abused — and it seemed to lower the stakes. But I don’t feel secure saying the flaw there is with the book — I suspect I’m complaining about the book not being what I wanted, which is a flaw with me. It’s my skew-older bias. So interesting that you, who skew younger most of the time, also found it problematic — hmmm.

        I’ll be posting our guest blogger review of this one tomorrow.

  3. I haven’t read some of the stuff listed above, but from what I have read, I’d put my money on September Girls and Boxers and Saints. However, I’m not sure Boxers and Saints can be considered because of the question of whether it’s a complete work or two separate works. I thought it was brilliant just the same.

    September Girls at times I thought could merit a silver but not a gold medal. I did love it, and found its exploration of sex, gender and the male gaze really on-point. The ending left things a little cloudy regarding the main character, and depending on how you choose to interpret the story, it could be seen as a weakness. Part of me also feels like I thought this book was excellent in relative terms. I didn’t come across a ‘Code Name Verity’ this year, in that I didn’t read a YA book that blew me away so profoundly. I was utterly convinced of that book’s superiority and excellence. I’m not as utterly convinced by this book.

    I also read Eleanor and Park and Rose Under Fire, and I’m half-way through Winger. So far, Winger feels too much like a Catcher in the Rye ripoff. It’s entertaining but not wholly original. Eleanor and Park also seemed more like an emotional read than a truly scholarly book. I found that story to be flawed in several ways that reflected too much of a TV show scenario. I did love it, but it wasn’t wholly excellent.

    Rose Under Fire, I found to be lacking in many ways, which was disappointing. The main character felt flat and uninteresting; certain plot threads were never tied up; and I found the construction of the novel just generally choppy and awkward. I also thought the novel was needlessly harrowing. There were times when I nearly vomited from the descriptions. Does that make the writing excellent if that happens? I’m not sure. Also, I felt the main character was Ravensbruck. So does that make this a novel or a history book? I think this book had an unclear purpose, and I just can’t throw my support behind it even as a runner-up.

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      Kristin, you say “Part of me also feels like I thought this book was excellent in relative terms. I didn’t come across a ‘Code Name Verity’ this year, in that I didn’t read a YA book that blew me away so profoundly.” — But the Printz is always relative, since it’s annual. My favorite years are the ones where there are a few books I can support with every fiber of my being, and I would agree that I haven’t seen many of those this year, although some come close. September Girls came pretty close, and in this year that makes it a final five.
      As for gold/silver — in the end, it’s a consensus, right? And in that regard, September Girls might have a real shot at gold, since those of us speculating seem to support it as a book that belongs in the mix. Anecdotally, I’d say it has more generalized consensus than anything else, and the weighted voting means that a book that everyone votes for can beat out other books that are strongly supported by only half or so of the committee. 5 first place votes and no other votes is worth fewer points than 9 second place votes…

      • A book group I run at my library is doing a much more scaled-back version of a Mock Printz group next week. I’m very interested to see what they think of all of the stuff mentioned in this post. Relativism is a strange thing. I compare novels that really have no business being compared all the time, even though I know I really shouldn’t. I suppose it does a book, i.e. September Girls, a disservice by comparing it to a book that’s not even in the running because it’s from a prior year.

        I like that this blog causes you to confront your own (perhaps flawed) reasoning for why you like or dislike a book and whether that in fact places strictures against it that aren’t necessarily valid. May I state the obvious by mentioning that it must be really hard to be on the Printz Committee? : )

  4. September Girls: I could see this one getting a sticker, and I think there’s so much to discuss that I would totally understand why. I loved Kristle’s ending which connects in some odd way to the resolution of Sorrow’s Knot too.

    Far Far Away: I agree that this one is simply too uneven and unsure of what exactly it’s doing.

    I’ve talked extensively about my love for Rose Under Fire, which is partly a subjective thing because I suspect I’m pretty darn close to an ideal reader for this book. Also, because I identify fairly strongly with Rose (German-American bookish Anglophile from the Mideast). But I will say that beyond my personal considerations, I think the way Wein brought to life–embodied, perhaps–the women of Ravensbrueck and their experiences was really powerful (Kristin, I would say that the main character is perhaps not Ravensbrueck, but Block 32). And that the way the book goes beyond the war into what comes after, how Rose and Roza’s experiences continue to reverberate outside the prison walls, is a perspective that often gets lost.

    Sorrow’s Knot has so much complexity and so many layers–family, religion, myth, sorrow, friendship, stories–all wrapped up in this gorgeous, lyrical prose. I really, really hope it gets honored.

    17 & Gone I liked a lot, and I think it has a lot of value as a book. But I am not sure the writing or plotting is strong enough to stand up to Printz-level scrutiny. Along with The Summer Prince, this is one I think I need to re-read soon.

    The Summer Prince–I remember liking this one a LOT when I first read it, but having some niggling questions about privilege and accuracy which I haven’t really resolved. Definitely one I want to re-read and discuss.

  5. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    17 & GONE: May I say how much I hate the back matter? I always read back matter before the end of the book, and here it not only removes any mystery about what’s going on, but it also makes it seem like a work of bibliotherapy (complete with mental health hotlines) rather than a work of art.

    • Strongly agree with you there, Jonathan. I don’t remember if that backmatter was in the ARC I read when I reviewed it, but it was definitely distracting on my re-read. Fortunately, I tend not to read backmatter until the end, so it didn’t affect my experience while I was reading.

      • Karyn Silverman says:

        I think you’re on to something here, Jonathan — the backmatter makes any other reading impossible, which in turn makes this a lesser work, I would argue, from a literary perspective.

  6. While I don’t think either of these are top five, I’m not sure I would dismiss FAR FAR AWAY or WINGER based on the argument of “what is this book trying to be?” I certainly wouldn’t call either of them “uneven” simply because they include aspects of various genres or techniques. Maybe muddled? In any case, a book containing multiple components should not, imho, be dismissed simply for trying something different.

    I have plenty of issues with WINGER because of the ending Smith chose for it, and in that case the last part of the book flies off the rails for me. FAR FAR AWAY seems to be either “love it without question” or “highly flawed” – little middle ground. So it could come down to the makeup of the RP committee on that one and what they think of it.

    And again, to be clear, I am not an apologist for either of these books – both of which I enjoyed but don’t think are likely to get a foil sticker.

    • Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

      I’ve seen “uneven” used in various comments on this post and elsewhere, and it’s kind of a vague criticism (reminding me of “pitchy” on American Idol) that would surely be followed by a more detailed criticism at the real table.

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      Muddled! Yes.
      In Winger’s case, by uneven I mean that there are various strands which seem to compete for center stage. It’s a pacing flaw, and a plotting flaw, maybe. There are other issues, too, but this unevenness or muddledness made it read like a book in need of one more comprehensive edit, which to my mind definitely makes it more deeply flawed and less successful than several other books this year.
      Actually, I’d say most of the same about Far Far Away. It’s not that I’m dismissing them for trying to do something different, it’s that I think they try and fail to succeed at doing something different.

  7. Jonathan Hunt Jonathan Hunt says:

    I didn’t nominate titles, but if I was on the RealPrintz I’d want to make sure these were discussed (in addition to many that were nominated on this thread).

    MORTAL FIRE by Elizabeth Knox
    WHAT THE HEART KNOWS by Joyce Sidman
    MARCH by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
    FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      Did you ever get a chance to reread Mortal Fire, Jonathan? I’m curious whether that made any dent in your support for it, or even strengthened it.

      As the year has gone on, my thinking has shifted, and I think Mortal Fire has edged up over A Corner of White (oh, the power and significance of the reread!), which I think makes it in my top 5 despite my previously stated issues with the pacing. I’m coming around to the strengths outweighing the flaws here.

  8. I can’t figure out why we’re not talking about Patrick Ness’ MORE THAN THIS. For me that twas the CNV book this year. Distinct, new, disturbing, hugely discussible and brilliant writing. Is it not eligibile? Is there some major flaw that I cam just not seeing?

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      Speaking for the official Someday bloggers, none of us have read it yet! We didn’t have a copy until late in the game. Starting it tonight, though — I think it’s the last book on our must-read list, in fact.

      • I didn’t nominate it, but I loved it, and I will be happy if it ends up getting an award! Here’s what I wrote to the Mock Printz group at my library:

        “I guess what makes it work for me is how the personal angst and the metaphysics bleed into each other. It reminds me very much of when I was getting into science fiction in high school, and especially getting into the X-Files, because massive government conspiracies made life seem so much more interesting and meaningful than the suffocating day-to-day of high school. There was an element of really wanting to believe that somewhere out there was a hidden truth that would make everything make more sense and be more meaningful — and I think the huge popularity of dystopias these last few years is connected to the same thing. And this is what I think Ness gets right: the world is always bigger and weirder and more interesting than we can comprehend, but no matter how many hidden truths we uncover, the whole thing doesn’t just unravel like knitted lace. You have to deal with the relationships you have. You have to deal with the fallible human beings in front of you. The world continues to be full of the suffocating day-to-day. However fragmented and narrow our view of the world is, it’s the only view we’ve got, and we have to figure out how to make the most of it.

        I don’t think it’s the best young adult book if the year, but whenever I think about it I feel like I’m swimming inside a deep, dark tunnel and what’s at the end is beautiful and mysterious.”

      • Karyn Silverman says:

        This is in reply to Emily, usual gripes about 3-deep nesting limit apply: I’m maybe 1/3 through, and I feel like the science fiction is, thus far, not working for me when the philosophical musing of the title is already jostling around in my head. We’ll see. More than that, I am heartily sick of the storyline that revolves around other people finding out the main character is gay. It bothered me in Sin-Eater and it bothers me here, and maybe it’s just that I am lucky enough to be in a community that is pretty devoid of that kind of bias, at least on the surface, but really, there were no other gay kids at Seth’s school? And everyone universally freaked out? It’s minor but it makes the whole thing fall apart a bit, especially since it seems to be so tied up in his suicide.

      • For what it’s worth, I didn’t read it that way — and I really should reread to see what the text supports, but I didn’t get the impression that everyone universally freaked out because Seth was gay. In my reading, some people freaked out that he was gay, and some people freaked out because pictures had gotten out that he obviously didn’t want to get out and were seizing on the smell of blood in the water, and Seth was seeing all this as worse than it actually was because of his own limited perspective. And at the same time, he was losing his boyfriend and his friends group was disintegrating because of the secret relationship, and it was the kind of thing where the terrible stuff that’s going on makes the not-SO-terrible stuff look worse than it actually is.

  9. Just catching up on all the really interesting reviews and discussions going on. I know I am late to the convo, but the only book that I think is missing from the list above is Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan. It’s a divisive, sometimes repulsive book and it’s too long and indulgent, but it’s a *major* standout in terms of voice, relationships, structure, and ability to capture what it’s like to have lived and grown up in this century. I’d guess that it won’t win anything, but to me it’s definitely worth consideration.

  10. While reading “Two Boys kissing” I was reminded that no matter how supportive some parts of the community are of GBLT teens, there is still rejection and abuse around the corner. For me, Seth was far more distraught that he was unable to see Gudmund than he was about the ostracism. It’s been a while since I read it, but my take was that his ‘suicide’ was based on the ending of his relationshiip. Which makes the isolation where he awakens even more of a hell. I think there is quite a bit here to ponder about who we are in a digital worls, and until you get to the end, you have no idea of the layers on layers that are going to appear. At least I didn’t. The unpredictibility of the story is still catching at me.

  11. Tara Kehoe says:

    No mention of Sex & Violence?

    • Karyn Silverman says:

      It’s coming! We’re trying to catch up on all of the Morris titles so we are holding it for those posts. Probably next week.

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