Sara Barnard won the 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 (published by Macmillan Children’s Books).
The novel tells the story of Eden, 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.
Everyday Sexism founder and writer Laura Bates, who was one of the prize 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 and author Alex Wheatle called Goodbye, Perfect “an utterly riveting read”, adding “it wouldn’t let me go”.
The winner was selected from a shortlist that also included: Clean by Juno Dawson (Quercus Children's Books), Big Bones by Laura Dockrill (Hot Key Books), I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan (Macmillan Children’s Books), The Surface Breaks by Louise O'Neill (Scholastic), White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock (Walker Books), I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman (HarperCollins Children's Books), Outwalkers by Fiona Shaw (David Fickling Books), Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber (Walker Books), and A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood (Scholastic).
For more information about the 2019 prize, click here.
In 2018, the YA Book Prize went to Will Hill for After the Fire (published by Usborne).
After the Fire tells the story of teenage girl Moonbeam, who is trying to come to terms with her past and prepare for a new life after leaving behind the cult she grew up in.
Author Louise O’Neill—winner of first ever YA Book Prize, and one of the 2018 judges—said: "After the Fire is an engrossing, brilliantly realised story which is almost impossible to put down. Both thoughtfully structured and fast-paced, it is one of the most sensitive portrayals of trauma that I have read in a long time." Fellow judges Akala, a hip-hop artist, writer and historian, and blogger and YouTuber Lucy Powrie described it as a "well-written book on a challenging subject" and "a perfect showcase of what UK YA should be".
The judges selected the winning title from a shortlist that also included: S.T.A.G.S. by M A Bennett (Hot Key Books); The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr (Penguin); It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne (Usborne); Moonrise by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury); Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence (Hodder Children’s); Release by Patrick Ness (Walker Books); Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls (Andersen Press); La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman (David Fickling Books/Penguin); and Straight Outta Crongton by Alex Wheatle (Atom).
A YA Book Prize Special Achievement Award was also given to Stripes Publishing and the authors of its YA anthology A Change is Gonna Come, to recognise their work in tackling the lack of diversity in YA publishing in the UK and Ireland.
For more information about the 2018 prize, click here.
In 2017, the YA Book Prize went to Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence (published by Hodder Children’s Books).
Orangeboy tells the story of 16-year-old Marlon, who finds himself facing tough choices after a date ends in tragedy. Despite not wanting to follow his older brother Andre down the wrong path, Marlon gets caught up in London’s gang culture and things soon start to spiral out of control.
Author Melvin Burgess, one of the prize judges, said: “Orangeboy ticked so many boxes for so many of the judges. It’s a page-turning thriller. The characters and their relationships are truthful, delightful, surprising and strong. It was so refreshing to read something set in an urban black community that will appeal to a diverse UK readership. It deals with family, friendship, sex appeal, loyalty and generally being human. It is so accomplished and we all really feel there is something there for everyone.”
The other shortlisted books, whittled down from more than 100 entries, were: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard (published by Macmillan Children’s Books), Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman and Riverkeep by Martin Stewart (both published by Penguin Random House Children’s), The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon and The Graces by Laure Eve (both published by Faber Children’s), Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield (published by Egmont), How Not to Disappear by Clare Furniss (published by Simon & Schuster Children’s), Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle (published by Atom) and The Call by Peadar O’Guilin (published by David Fickling Books).
For more information about the 2017 prize, click here.
The YA Book Prize 2016 was won by Sarah Crossan's One (published by Bloomsbury). One is about conjoined twins Grace and Tippi, who, after years of being educated at home, go to public school for the first time. Over the course of the novel the sisters make friends who have their own problems, whilst facing a serious medical choice.
The judges were unanimous in their decision that One should be this 2016’s winner.
Judge and writer Bim Adewunmi said she "fell in love" with the book.
"Tippi and Grace are a great addition to the pantheon of great literary sisters, and the way Crossan explores their rare (physical) bond only makes them more so," she said. "I cried on the train at the end and I will not soon forget either of these girls."
Sarah beat competition from nine other shortlisted books: Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe (published by Bloomsbury), Unbecoming by Jenny Downham and The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson (both published by David Fickling Books), The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (published by Walker Books), The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury (published by Scholastic), Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne (published by Usborne), The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo (published by Penguin Random House Children’s), The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (published by Macmillan Children’s Books) and Asking For It by Louise O’Neill (published by Quercus).
A YA Book Prize Special Achievement Award went to Melvin Burgess, whose novel Junk, one of the first YA novels by a UK author, was published by Andersen Press 20 years ago.
For more information about the 2016 prize, click here.
Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill (published by Quercus) was the first winner of the YA Book Prize. The book tells the story of 16-year-olds freida and isabel, who are in their final year of school and waiting to see if they are selected as wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative, life as a concubine, is too awful to contemplate, so the intense competition between the girls over their looks starts to mount.
The judges praised Louise for her "startling and refreshing" take on the dystopian genre. Rick O’Shea, presenter at Irish broadcaster RTE, said: "Only Ever Yours is, as far as I'm concerned, not just a worthy winner of the prize but one of the best speculative fiction books I've read in years. It pushes the boundaries of contemporary YA. I'll be pressing it into the hands of anyone who might read it."
The other shortlisted books were A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond (published by Hodder Children’s Books), Salvage by Keren David (published by Atom), Say Her Name by Juno Dawson and Goose by Dawn O’Porter (both published by Hot Key Books), Lobsters by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen (published by Chicken House), Half Bad by Sally Green (published by Penguin), Finding a Voice by Kim Hood (published by O’Brien Press), Trouble by Non Pratt (published by Walker Books) and The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick (published by Orion).
For more information about the 2015 prize, click here.