It was a good reading year. I read 37 books for personal pleasure, research, or for one of my 3 bookclubs. I ‘assessed’ (which mostly means ‘read’) another 137 books as a committee member for the Governor General Literary Award for Young People’s Literature.
There were a lot of excellent books, but, looking back, the most memorable books of the year for me are these seven books for young people and one novel for adults.
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster by Jonathan Auxier. This is a stand-out book for readers of all ages and the winner of this year’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People. Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. These two outcasts carve out a life together – saving one another in the process. A multi-layered masterpiece.
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis. This story has huge heart, is funny and painful. Curtis is a master storyteller.
Ebb & Flow by Heather Smith. Told in free verse, this is a poignant story of healing for a troubled young boy and his eccentric Grandmother. Stunningly beautiful.
Dodger Boy by Sarah Ellis. This story of a Vancouver Quaker family in 1970 covers a vast number of themes from draft-dodging, coming of age, friendship and censorship. Ellis has a gentle hand and nothing comes across didactic or preachy. The conversations between the various characters are lovely and insightful. It’s a smart novel without being pretentious.
No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen. This story also has huge heart. It explores homelessness in Vancouver. Mom and Felix live in a van. Things go from bad to worse because of Mom’s behaviour. The story is funny and poignant. The pacing and writing are excellent.
Louisianna’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo. DiCamillo is truly a master of the genre. As with her other books, in this one she puts her young protagonist in a very difficult situation but the story is told sensitively with a light hand and humour.
Miles to Go by Beryl Young. This tender story is compulsively readable. Set in the ’40’s two prairie girls have very different lives but they cling to their friendship despite the obstacles. I was moved to tears by the loss one of the girls endured. Heartwarming.
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. Witty and wise, this is a big-hearted novel about a family with a transgender child. Sensitively written and often funny.