Shortlist

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

  

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This is a timely coming-of-age story fiercely told in verse about the journey to self-acceptance.

The Black Flamingo follows Michael as he comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen and finds his wings at university as a drag artist. An exploration of a mixed-race LGBTQ+ experience in Britain, The Black Flamingo is a bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness and finding your inner strength.

Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up.

Author bio

Named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday and “one of poetry’s greatest modern voices” by Gay Times, poet Dean Atta’s work has appeared on BBC One, BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Channel 4, often dealing with themes of gender, identity, race and growing up. Dean regularly performs across the UK and internationally. Dean's debut poetry collection was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. Follow him on Twitter at @DeanAtta

The book is illustrated by Anshika Khullar, a genderfluid, Indian illustrator based in the south of England. Follow them on Twitter at @_aorists.

Crossfire by Malorie Blackman

  

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Thirty-four years have passed since Sephy Hadley – a Cross – first met Callum McGregor – a Nought. Their love was forbidden, powerful – and deadly.

Life is seemingly very different now for Noughts and Crosses – including for Sephy and Callum's families. But old wounds from the past are hard to heal, and when you're playing a game as dangerous as they are, it won't be long before someone gets caught in the crossfire.

Author bio

Malorie Blackman has written over 60 books for children and young adults. Many of her books have also been adapted for stage and television, including a BAFTA-award-winning BBC production of Pig-Heart Boy, a Pilot Theatre stage adaptation by Sabrina Mahfouz of Noughts & Crosses and a major BBC production of Noughts & Crosses, with Roc Nation (Jay-Z's entertainment company). In 2008 Malorie received an OBE for her services to children's literature, and between 2013 and 2015 she was the Children's Laureate. Follow her on Twitter at @malorieblackman.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

  

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It looked like love. It felt like love. But this isn't a love story.

Amelie fell hard for Reese. And she thought he loved her too. But she's starting to realise that real love isn't supposed to hurt like this. So now she's retracing their story, revisiting all the places he made her cry. Because if she works out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn how to get over him.

A razor-sharp and timely novel exploring what love is and what love isn't.

Author bio

Holly Bourne is a bestselling and critically acclaimed author. Inspired by her work with young people, and her own experiences of everyday sexism, Holly is a passionate mental health advocate and proud feminist. Follow her on Twitter at @holly_bourneYA.

Meat Market by Juno Dawson

  

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Jana Novak’s history sounds like a classic model cliché: tall and gangly, she’s uncomfortable with her androgynous looks until she’s unexpectedly scouted and catapulted into superstardom.

But the fashion industry is as grimy as it is glamorous. And there are unexpected predators at every turn.

Jana is an ordinary girl from a south London estate, lifted to unimaginable heights. But the further you rise, the more devastating your fall....

Author bio

Juno Dawson is the author of 11 books, including the bestselling Clean and her recent adult memoir, The Gender Games. Juno is a regular contributor to Attitude, GT, Glamour and Guardian and has contributed to news items concerning sexuality, identity, literature and education on BBC Woman's Hour, Front Row, This Morning and Newsnight. A School Role Model for Stonewall, Juno also works with the charity First Story to visit schools serving low-income communities. Juno grew up in West Yorkshire and now lives in Brighton, where she writes full time. Follow her on Twitter at @junodawson.

Furious Thing by Jenny Downham

  

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Anger was something to believe in when the world let her down.

Lexi's angry. And it's getting worse. If only she could stop losing her temper and behave herself, her step-father would accept her, her mum would love her like she used to and her step-brother would declare his crushing desire to spend the rest of his life with her. She wants these things so badly she determines to swallow her anger and make her family proud. But pushing fury down doesn't make it disappear. Instead, it simmers below the surface waiting to erupt. There'll be fireworks when it does.

Author bio

Jenny Downham trained as an actor and worked in alternative theatre before starting to write. Her first book, Before I Die, is an international bestseller. It won the Branford Boase Award, the Australian Silver Inky Award for best international novel, and was shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. Her second novel, You Against Me, won the Waterstones Teen Fiction Prize. Jenny lives in London. Find her at www.jennydownham.com.

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

  

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On the streets of the Island of Lady’s Crave live 14-year-old street urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt. They are scavengers; diving for relics of the gods, desperate for anything they can sell. But there is something dangerous in the deep waters of the undersea, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it.  When the waves try to claim Jelt, Hark will do anything to save him. Even if it means compromising not just who Jelt is, but also what he is.

The gods of The Myriad were as real as the coastlines and currents, and as merciless as the winds and whirlpools. Now the gods are dead, but their remains are stirring beneath the waves…

Author bio

Frances Hardinge spent her childhood in a huge old house which inspired her to write strange stories from an early age. She read English at Oxford University, then got a job at a software company. Her first children’s novel, Fly By Night, was published to huge critical acclaim and won the Branford Boase First Novel Award. Known for her arresting use of language, she has since written several highly lauded novels, including most recently the Carnegie-shortlisted A Skinful of Shadows, Verdigris Deep, Cuckoo Song and the Costa Award-winning The Lie Tree. Follow her on Twitter at @FrancesHardinge.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

  

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The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden.

And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth…?

Author bio

Holly Jackson is the bestselling author of A Good Girl's Guide to Murder – the critically-acclaimed number one children’s debut of 2019. She lives in London and aside from reading and writing, she enjoys playing video games and watching true crime documentaries so she can pretend to be a detective. Good Girl, Bad Blood is the thrilling sequel to A Good Girl's Guide to Murder. Follow her on Twitter at @HoJay92.

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James

  

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Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a devastating virus caused global infertility, and in turn threatened the steady extinction of the human race. Closeted in a pocket of deteriorating London, Lowrie and Shen are doted upon by a small, ageing community; the last of humanity. The pair blissfully spend their days mudlarking for hidden treasures – that is until a secret is uncovered which could end them all, and fast. Now they face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, what must they sacrifice to save the human race?

Author bio

Lauren James was born in 1992 and has a master’s degree from the University of Nottingham, where she studied chemistry and physics. She sold the rights to her first novel, The Next Together, when she was twenty-one. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature scientists in prominent roles. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. Follow her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James.

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

  

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Seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are brutally snatched one night, taken far from the travelling community they so love. Their abductor is the cruel Boyar Valcar who sells them to a castle kitchen where they are forced to work as slaves.

Lil befriends fellow slave Mira, a girl she’s inexplicably drawn to, and the pair comfort each other, drawing strength from their friendship to help cope with the awful situation they have been put into. She learns of the mythical Dragon – a creature which is rumoured to accept young girls as gifts.

Author bio

Kiran Millwood Hargrave is an award-winning poet, playwright and bestselling novelist. Her debut novel for children, The Girl of Ink and Stars, won the Waterstones Book Prize and the Children’s Book of the Year at the British Book Awards. Her work has been long and short-listed for several other major prizes, including the Costa Award and the CILIP Carnegie Award. The Deathless Girls is her first novel for young adults. Kiran is a graduate of both Oxford and Cambridge universities and lives by the river in Oxford with her husband and cat. Follow her on Twitter at @Kiran_MH.

The Gifted, the Talented and Me by William Sutcliffe

  

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Fifteen-year-old Sam isn’t special. He’s not a famous vlogger, he’s never gone viral, and he doesn’t want to be the Next Big Thing. What he likes most is chatting to his friends and having a bit of a kickabout.

None of which was a problem until his Dad got rich and his Mum made the whole family move to London. Now Sam is being made to go to the North London Academy for the Gifted and Talented, where every student is too busy planning Hollywood domination or starting alt-metal psychedelica crossover bands or making clothes out of bathmats to give someone as normal as him the time of day. Can Sam navigate his way through the weirdness and find a way to be himself?

Author bio

William Sutcliffe was born in London in 1971. He is the international bestselling author of five novels for adults, including Are You Experienced?, and three YA novels: The Wall, Concentr8 and We See Everything. He lives in Edinburgh. Follow him on Twitter at @Will_Sutcliffe8.