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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

2011 Alex Awards

The Alex Awards (and it’s an Award, not a list) are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The award is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust; Edwards’ nickname was “Alex.” (I am now pondering what I want the Liz Award to be….)

My comments are in italics; I’ve only read one of the ten winners:

The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To by DC Pierson, published by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Coming of age with science fiction? Including that the main characters like science fiction? Nice.

Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray, published by Hyperion. Hey, I watched the made for TV movie, does that count? Seriously, my sister has a copy so I may be reading this one.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, published by Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. I enjoy immigration stories: the uniqueness they offer, with the commonality. I’m really intrigued by this Hong Kong to NYC journey.

The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni, published by Amy Einhorn Books, an imprint of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of the Penguin Group. I’m intrigued by the Publishers Weekly review that says “The boys here don’t come of age.”

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton, published by Thomas Dunne Books for Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press. True fact: I have always wanted to learn how to pick a lock. Or a safe. Or even just hot wire a car. It’s on my bucket list. (I don’t really have a bucket list. It’s just an expression.)

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel by Aimee Bender, published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. This has been on my TBR pile forever. Time to move it up!

The Radleys by Matt Haig, published by Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Vampires? Yes, I want to read.

The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel by Alden Bell, published by Holt Paperbacks, a division of Henry Holt and Company, LLC  I originally misheard this as “Reavers” and thought Firefly! Awesome! But, no. Reapers. Still, zombies!

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue, published by Little, Brown and Company a division of Hatchette Book Group, Inc. From my review: “Room is also about the bonds between parent and child and how love can both save and smother. Ma and Jack spend every hour of every day together. Jack is Ma’s whole life. What child wouldn’t want to be the center of his parent’s existence? This love saved Ma and saves Jack, but what happens to it Outside in a world where people don’t share one small room 24/7? Jack, like any child, has to learn to be his own person, not an extension of his mother.”

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden: A Novel by Helen Grant, published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group,  division of Random House, Inc. Horror! Age old mystery of missing girls! I’m beginning to think this really is the “Books Liz Will Like Award” not the “Alex Award.”

A big “thanks” to the hardworking committee: Chair Beth Gallaway, Haverhill (Mass.) Public Library; Lana Adlawan, Sacramento Public Library, Elk Grove, Calif.; Hope Baugh, Carmel Clay (Ind.) Public Library; Meghan Cirrito, Queens Borough Public Library, Jamaica, N.Y.; Crystal Faris, Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library; Karen Keys, Queens Borough Public Library, Jamaica, N.Y.; Ann Perrigo, Allegan (Mich.) District Library; Jessi Snow, Boston Public Library; Ellen Wathen, Walnut Hills High School, Cincinnati, Ohio; Scott Rader, administrative assistant, Hays (Kan.) Public Library; and Ian Chipman, Booklist consultant, Chicago.

For those who adore lists, the vetted list of nominations is available. I have read none of them! And I’m thinking I should have nominated The Iron Duke.

About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. I’m about 10 chapters in to THE UNBEARABLE SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE right now. It is… sad. I was going to quit reading it for something cheerier, but this award, and the book’s intriguing premise will keep me going. All of a sudden, a 9-year-old girl can taste the emotions of the people who made her food. But so far she hasn’t tasted any happy emotions — I’m waiting for that.

  2. Both my 16-year old daughter and I thought House of Tomorrow was really good and very funny. I can’t understand why that one wasn’t published as a YA title, to tell you the truth–the whole book screams teens!

  3. @Margo: I completely agree! It missed out on awards for YA books for which it certainly would have been appropriate. It was a quirky, fun, serious read with great characters. A MUST for YA lists.

  4. I’ve only read Girl in Translation – I really liked it and found it very hard to put down. I do want to read the Lock Artist

    I did read three of titles under consideration. 32 Candles, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky and Diamond Ruby.

    I am surprised Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self wasn’t nominated.

  5. I keep hearing that The House of Tomorrow is a fantastic read. I have it in my TBR and really should get to it but always forget I have it!

  6. Sondy, having just read STOLEN I’m not sure if I can take another sad book right away.

    Margo, Tanya, Michelle — maybe I’ll have time to read it. So many books, so little time!

    Doret, I hadn’t heard of “Before…”. I’m not sure of the nomination process for Alex, so I’m not sure if it was or wasn’t nominated. I know anyone can nominate but it doesn’t look like any categories are open yet except for nonfiction: