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The 2017 National Book Award Shortlist

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 10.39.17 PMThe National Book Award shortlist is here and across all of the categories 15 of the 20 nominated authors are women and in the category we really care about here at Someday, all of the finalists were written by women!

Here are the five nominees:

What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

We were already planning to cover the Benway and Zoboi. With this announcement I’m excited to move Elana K. Arnold and Erika L. Sanchez’s books on to our review schedule. The description of Clayton Byrd sounds like a middle grade so I’m not sure if it has any young adult crossover appeal, but I’d love to hear from someone who has read it. Personally, I’m surprised and a bit disappointed that Angie Thomas’s brilliant The Hate U Give didn’t make the shortlist, which was my favorite of the ten longlisted novels but this is a great group of books. Of the five finalists, which book are you most excited about? Tell us the in the comments!


About Joy Piedmont

Joy Piedmont is a librarian and technology integrator at LREI - Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School. Prior to becoming a librarian, Joy reviewed and reported for Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch. She reviews for SLJ and is the President of the Hudson Valley Library Association. When she’s not reading or writing about YA literature, she’s compulsively consuming culture of all kinds, learning to fly (on a trapeze), and taking naps with her cat, Oliver. Find her on Twitter @InquiringJoy, email her at joy dot piedmont at gmail dot com, or follow her on Tumblr. Her opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, LREI, HVLA or any other initialisms with which she is affiliated.


  1. What? The Hate U Give isn’t on the shortlist? I am in shock! Is it going to be this year’s The Fault in Our Stars? The book everyone is talking about that no one votes for?

  2. I’ve read Clayton Byrd and I did not see it as a Printz contender from an age perspective. Technically I think it could appeal to the 12 year old age range of the Printz, but from a practical point of view its feel was more “children’s book” and not “younger end young adult book” to me.

  3. I haven’t read any yet, but I’m most eager to read I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. (Also, kudos to the author and publisher for going with the long, somewhat ungainly, awesome title).

  4. I started What Girls are Made Of when it was on the long list and I couldn’t get into it.

    I read American Street and the detective storyline and the Papa Legba storyline didn’t work for me.

    • Karyn Silverman says

      I wanted to love American Street — I’ve followed the author for years on twitter and heard her speak about American Street last year shortly before it pubbed, and I think she’s incredibly smart — and it didn’t work for me either, but I can’t identify why. It’s got great sentence level writing and in concept I like the genre blending, but in practice not so much. I do wonder — and this came up when our book club talked about it — if a huge part of the issue is mismanaged expectations. The flap copy and publisher pitch all pointed to the detained mother piece of the storyline being the thing, the center and focus of the novel. Which is just not the case. It’s actually about holding onto yourself and what matters as a recent immigrant, and about culture shock and family and belonging. The mother could be written out and I think the novel would mostly still work.

      We’ll be talking about it more when the review posts so I’ll stop now!

      • I can’t wait to hear what people have to say about it. I was excited to read it so I am hoping to hear another side.

      • Karyn,
        That’s a really good point about how AMERICAN STREET was marketed. I attended a dinner with the author in Atlanta and thought the novel sounded fascinating, then promptly stashed it away and didn’t read it until months later when I had sorta forgotten about the focus on the mother. Only after you brought it up here did I remember that and now see it similarly to you as a mismatch.

  5. Courtney Johnson says

    I’d definitely put Clayton Byrd in the Newbery category. It’s a contender there, imo.

  6. I could write a lengthy review of the good and bad in American Street but I think the biggest problem was ineffectually blending magical realism with story of a new immigrant caught in the middle of the drug trade.

  7. Dawn Abron says

    I haven’t read any of these and I’m pretty upset with myself for it. I will however try to make my way through the list.
    I’m too shocked that THUG didn’t make the long list and others think it’s because it will be considered for Printz-not sure if that matters to the NBA committee though. Although I liked THUG, I had issues with it and I don’t think it’s worthy of a Printz award-honor maybe. I’ve read other books that were stronger than THUG and I too think it may be succumbing to TFIOS syndrome.

  8. I’m really happy with this longlist although also surprised that The Hate U Give didn’t make the cut–it saddens me that THUG and American Street always seem to be on opposite sides of an either/or dichotomy.

    I read American Street near when it came out and still think about it often. I still think it has legs to go much farther awards-wise this year. I’m assuming Sanchez’s book will get a lot of the same love and attention that was given to Gabi, A Girl in Pieces and deservedly so. Also planning to dig into Far from the Tree very soon!

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