The nominations for the 2015 Carnegie Medal...
...have been announced, and AUUUGH there are SO MANY.
Here are the (very very) few that I've read:
Lockhart, E. We Were Liars:
Despite the dark storyline and the undercurrents of (and sometimes outright) ugliness on the part of various characters—as well as that always-uncomfortable experience of recognizing not-fun situations that you've seen play out in real life—it's a very PRETTY book. It's got a great rhythm, nice imagery, example after example of lovely phrases and sentences. I'm still undecided, though, about whether or not there's a core at the center of it all, or if I was actually supposed to finish the book feeling... empty.
Rosoff, Meg. Picture Me Gone: Why did I not write about this one when I read it way back when? I have no idea. I have no doubt that I've said this before, but here's what I love about Meg Rosoff: her books are always entirely different in terms of voice and storyline and theme and tone, but they are always entirely the same in terms of quality. Which is to say that while I go into each one with high expectations, I've never come close to being disappointed.
Picture Me Gone is about family and friendship and secrets and lies and grief and guilt and blame and shame. We don't see a lot of contemporary children's fiction or YA that looks closely at adult issues and interactions from a child's perspective—A.S. King talks quite a bit about that in this interview, which is very much worth a read—and that's a real shame: after all, so much of childhood and adolescence is about trying to understand, deconstruct, and emulate the actions and relationships of adults.
Sedgwick, Marcus. She Is Not Invisible: I haven't written at length about this one, either, but in this case, my feelings are more mixed. I'm going to focus on the LESS SUCCESSFUL end first: the mystery, the thread about coincidences, and the brief arc about racism. None of those three elements felt entirely fleshed out; the mystery and coincidences thread felt especially just... flat, while the racism piece read like an afterthought that was shoehorned in.
Despite those problems, Laureth's perspective and voice were so well-done that it was a hugely enjoyable read regardless. She's blind—and has been since birth—so her descriptions of people and her environment are based in sound and feel and smell and taste, but in a way that feels natural and realistic: it doesn't rely on the utterly crap Heightened Senses trope, and it doesn't read like a sighted-person's writing exercise. (Of course, that's my take on it—I'd very much like to know what Disability in Kidlit has to say about it.)
I also loved how Sedgwick portrayed her various relationships with other people, ESPECIALLY her parents: her father is clearly often frustrated by the fact that she is unable to pick up on visual cues in conversation, and, being pretty self-involved, he comes off as somewhat disinterested in changing his behavior to be helpful; her mother, meanwhile, is hugely focused on being sure that Laureth can navigate and interact with the world—as well as conform to the weird unspoken cultural rules that most people adhere to without even trying—but it seems to come more from a place of wanting Laureth to appear "normal" than from a place of teaching her how to be entirely independent. At the same time, their love for her is always very apparent. So it's all mixed-up and complicated and difficult and REAL, as human interactions generally are. YAY.
Sharpe, Tess. Far From You:
I have six and a half pages of notes in front of me, but they can be condensed into four words: I LOVED THIS BOOK. It’s about friendship, loyalty, trust and love; about betraying the person you love most in the world in order to save her; about addiction and grief, guilt and shame; about fear, family, and about how no one knows how long they have in this life: sometimes, someday never happens.