YA Book Prize 2019 Winner
MacMillan Children's Books
Sara Barnard has won The Bookseller's YA Book Prize in its fifth year for her "unflinching" and “utterly riveting” contemporary novel about the impact of a teacher-student relationship, Goodbye, Perfect.
She saw off competition from nine others authors, including inaugural YA Book Prize winner Louise O’Neill, to claim the £2,000 award, which was presented in a ceremony held at Hay Festival.
Goodbye, Perfect tells the story of Eden McKinley, a teenage girl who is forced to question everything when her steady, straight-A best friend Bonnie runs away with a teacher five days before the start of their GCSEs. Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and she’s forced to weigh up betraying her best friend with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts. It is Barnard’s third novel; her first, Beautiful Broken Things was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2017.
Barnard lives in Brighton and has published four YA novels with Macmillan Children’s Books. Her latest is Fierce Fragile Hearts, a follow-up to her debut, which was released in February 2019. Talking to The Bookseller about the inspiration for Goodbye, Perfect, she said: “I was interested in all the stories that don't get told when there's a big scandal on a national stage — all the friends, family and wider community that aren't given a voice. So though this story features a student running away with a teacher, that's not what the story is actually about — it's about how it affects those closest to her and the people left behind.”
Everyday Sexism founder and writer Laura Bates, who was one of this year’s judges, said: "Sara Barnard's writing is an absolute triumph: this book is unputdownable and beautiful, unflinching in its exploration of important and complex topics from sexual exploitation to the foster care system. But it is also a joy to read, a tender portrayal of family and sibling relationships, of flawed and poignant female friendships and of the nuanced reality of teenage experiences and the journey to discovering who you are and what you stand for." Fellow judge author Alex Wheatle called it “an utterly riveting read”, adding “it wouldn’t let me go”.