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My Book of Life by Angel wins 2013 CLA Young Adult Book Award

My Book of Life by Angel (cover image)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Ottawa (April 15, 2013) - The Canadian Library Association / Association canadienne des bibliothèques is pleased to announce the 2013 Young Adult Book Award winner and honour Books for books published in 2012. The award is generously sponsored by Library Services Centre. My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt, published by Groundwood Books, is the winner. The honour Books are What Happened to Ivy by Kathy Stinson (Second Story Press) and 40 Things I Want to Tell You by Alice Kuipers (HarperCollins Canada).

My Book of Life by Angel tells the heart-wrenching story of 16-year-old Angel, a sex worker held emotionally captive by her pimp, Call. Unable to resist sealing shoes, and being caught doing drugs in front of her younger brother, Angel’s father turns her away to live on the streets of Vancouver. Nobody seems to care or notice that many prostitutes have gone missing or turned up dead recently, but when Serena goes away and leaves her running-away money stashed under Angels’ mattress, she knows that her friend has become another murder victim. Angel takes Serena’s advice and tells their story, writing it all down. When Call brings Melli home, so young and innocent and like Angel’s baby brother Jeremy, she knows she has to do more than just tell he their story. Written in verse, Martine Leavitt creates a unique and believable voice for Angel, capturing a bit of innocence left in an otherwise dark and hardened teen and her world.

In What Happened to Ivy, Kathy Stinson tackles the complexities of mercy killings, and all the emotions that accompany them. David’s younger sister, Ivy, has multiple disabilities, difficulty communicating, is wheelchair-bound, and increasingly severe seizures. Their entire family revolves around caring for Ivy, which often leaves him feeling resentful towards her. But when Ivy drowns while in the care of her father, David is left to deal not only with the grief over missing his sister, but also the myriad emotions about his resentment, about his father’s actions, and about his feeling towards the girl next door. Stinson uses David to frankly and honestly address a topic most people would rather ignore, and forces the reader to think about the value and quality of life itself.

Alice Kuipers addresses teen pregnancy in 40 Things I Want to Tell You. Any, or Bird as her friends and family call her, is a high-achieving student, dating her boy-next-door childhood friend, and seems to have her life mapped out perfectly (on a bulletin board, no less). She even runs an advice blog, under the pseudonym Miss Take Control of Your Life. So, when she gets pregnant by the dark and brooding new boy, Pete, she understandably ties to hide and ignore it; until she can’t. Being forced to face the realities of her life, and her own imperfections as well as those of her friends and family, Bird finally gets honest about what she wants, who she is, and how much she can really control. Many young adult books deal with teen pregnancy. Kuipers does it by taking us along on Bird’s emotional evolution, coming to her conclusion in a frustrating teenage way that youth will enjoy, using thought processes that they will readily recognize.

A complete list of the shortlisted titles can be found here. The Young Adult Book Award was established in 1980. The award recognizes an author of an outstanding Canadian English-language work of fiction (novel or collection of short stories) that appeals to young adults between the ages of 13 and 18. Previous winners include Kenneth Oppel, Lesley Livingston, Allan Stratton, Martha Brooks, William Bell, Miriam Toews, and Polly Horvath.

The award will be presented at this year’s CLA Book Awards reception, on May 30, 2013, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, during the CLA 2013 National Conference & Trade Show. The CLA Book Awards reception is generously sponsored by the TD Bank Group.

The Canadian Library Association / Association canadienne des bibliothèques is Canada’s largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians and library workers, and all those concerned about enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the 2012 CLA Young Adult Book Award Jury: Barb Janicek, Chair, Kitchener Public Library; Kim Hebig, Wheatland Regional Library; Stephanie Vollick, Okanagan Regional Library; Carmelita Cechetto-Shea, Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board; Allison Hall-Murphy, Ottawa Public Library.
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Media Contact:
Barb Janicek
bjenicek@kpl.org