Inspiration through Information
White Lake Township Library

White Lake Township Library

 

2020 Award Winning Books

 

 

BookBrowse

Since 2000, BookBrowse has asked its members and subscribers to select the best books published each year. Through a rigorous voting process, this shortlist is then honed down to find the BookBrowse Awards Winners.
 

NOTE: 2020 BookBrowse winners have not yet been announced. Below are the 2019 winners. We'll update this as soon as the 2020 winners are named.

 

Best Fiction - Olive Again, by Elizabeth Stroud

Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is "a compelling life force" (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout "animates the ordinary with an astonishing force," and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire us—in Strout’s words--"to bear the burden of the mystery with as much grace as we can."
 

Best Debut Author- Solitary, by Albert Woodfox

Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement―in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana―all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.

Arrested often as a teenager in New Orleans, inspired behind bars in his early twenties to join the Black Panther Party because of its social commitment and code of living, Albert was serving a 50-year sentence in Angola for armed robbery when on April 17, 1972, a white guard was killed. Albert and another member of the Panthers were accused of the crime and immediately put in solitary confinement by the warden. Without a shred of actual evidence against them, their trial was a sham of justice that gave them life sentences in solitary. Decades passed before Albert gained a lawyer of consequence; even so, sixteen more years and multiple appeals were needed before he was finally released in February 2016.

Remarkably self-aware that anger or bitterness would have destroyed him in solitary confinement, sustained by the shared solidarity of two fellow Panthers, Albert turned his anger into activism and resistance. The Angola 3, as they became known, resolved never to be broken by the grinding inhumanity and corruption that effectively held them for decades as political prisoners. He survived to give us Solitary, a chronicle of rare power and humanity that proves the better spirits of our nature can thrive against any odds.

 

Best Nonfiction- Becoming, by Michelle Obama

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

 

Best Young Adult- Butterfly Yellow, by Thanhha Lai

Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Ibi Zoboi, and Erika L. Sanchez, this gorgeously written and deeply moving own voices novel is the YA debut from the award-winning author of Inside Out & Back Again. 4 starred reviews!

In the final days of the Viet Nam War, Hang takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. In a split second, Linh is ripped from her arms -- and Hang is left behind in the war-torn country.

Six years later, Hang has made the brutal journey from Viet Nam and is now in Texas as a refugee. She doesn't know how she will find the little brother who was taken from her until she meets LeeRoy, a city boy with big rodeo dreams, who decides to help her.

Hang is overjoyed when she reunites with Linh. But when she realizes he doesn’t remember her, their family, or Viet Nam, her heart is crushed. Though the distance between them feels greater than ever, Hang has come so far that she will do anything to bridge the gap.

   

Booker Prize - 2020 Short List

Awarded in October each year, the Booker Prize is the UK's top literary prize and the most watched single-book award in the English-speaking world. Until 2013 the award was open only to citizens of the Commonwealth of nations (in essence, the UK and former British colonies). As of 2014 the award is open to authors worldwide so long as their work is in English and published in the UK.
 

Real Life, by Brandon Taylor

Wallace has spent his summer in the lab breeding a strain of microscopic worms. He is four years into a biochemistry degree at a lakeside Midwestern university, a life that’s a world away from his childhood in Alabama. His father died a few weeks ago, but Wallace didn’t go back for the funeral, and he hasn’t told his friends – Miller, Yngve, Cole and Emma. For reasons of self-preservation, he has become used to keeping a wary distance even from those closest to him. But, over the course of one blustery end-of-summer weekend, the destruction of his work and a series of intense confrontations force Wallace to grapple with both the trauma of the past, and the question of the future.

Deftly zooming in and out of focus, Real Life is a deeply affecting story about the emotional cost of reckoning with desire, and overcoming pain.

 

Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart

1981. Glasgow. The city is dying. Poverty is on the rise. People watch the lives they had hoped for disappear from view. Agnes Bain had always expected more. She dreamed of greater things: a house with its own front door, a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect – but false – teeth). When her philandering husband leaves, she and her three children find themselves trapped in a mining town decimated by Thatcherism. As Agnes increasingly turns to alcohol for comfort, her children try their best to save her. Yet one by one they have to abandon her in order to save themselves.

It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. But Shuggie has problems of his own: despite all his efforts to pass as a ‘normal boy’, everyone has decided that Shuggie is ‘no right’. Agnes wants to support and protect her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her, including her beloved Shuggie.

Laying bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride, Shuggie Bain is a blistering and heartbreaking debut, and an exploration of the unsinkable love that only children can have for their damaged parents.

 

The New Wilderness, by Diane Cook

A daring, passionate and terrifying novel about a mother’s battle to save her daughter in a world ravaged by climate change.

Bea's five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is wasting away, consumed by the smog and pollution of the over-developed metropolis they call home. If they stay in the city, Agnes will die, but there is only one alternative - joining a group of volunteers in the Wilderness State. This vast expanse of unwelcoming, untamed land is untouched by mankind. Until now. Living as nomadic hunter-gatherers, Bea and Agnes slowly learn how to survive on this unpredictable, often dangerous land. But as Agnes embraces the wild freedom of her new existence, Bea realises that saving her daughter’s life means losing her in a different way.

At once a blazing lament of our contempt for nature and a deeply humane portrayal of motherhood, and what it means to be human, The New Wilderness is an extraordinary, compelling novel for our times.

 

Burnt Sugar, by Avni Doshi

In her youth, Tara was wild. She abandoned her loveless marriage to join an ashram, endured a brief stint as a beggar (mostly to spite her affluent parents), and spent years chasing after a dishevelled, homeless 'artist' - all with her young child in tow. Now she is forgetting things, mixing up her maid's wages and leaving the gas on all night, and her grown-up daughter is faced with the task of caring for a woman who never cared for her.

This is a love story and it is a story about betrayal. But not between lovers - between mother and daughter. Sharp as a blade and laced with caustic wit, Avni Doshi tests the limits of what we can know for certain about those we are closest to, and by extension, about ourselves.

 

This Mournable Body, by Tsitsi Dangarembga

In this tense and psychologically charged novel, Tsitsi Dangarembga channels the hope and potential of one young girl and a fledgling nation to lead us on a journey to discover where lives go after hope has departed.

Here we meet Tambudzai, living in a run-down youth hostel in downtown Harare and anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job. At every turn in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the painful contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality ultimately drives her to a breaking point.

 

The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste

Ethiopia. 1935. With the threat of Mussolini’s army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid. Her new employer, Kidane, an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army, rushes to mobilise his strongest men before the Italians invade. Hirut and the other women long to do more than care for the wounded and bury the dead. When Emperor Haile Selassie goes into exile and Ethiopia quickly loses hope, it is Hirut who offers a plan to maintain morale. She helps disguise a gentle peasant as the emperor and soon becomes his guard, inspiring other women to take up arms. But how could she have predicted her own personal war, still to come, as a prisoner of one of Italy’s most vicious officers? The Shadow King casts light on the women soldiers written out of African and European history. It is a captivating exploration of female power, and what it means to be a woman at war.
 
   

The John Newbery Medal

Awarded in October each year, the Booker Prize is the UK's top literary prize and the most watched single-book award in the English-speaking world. Until 2013 the award was open only to citizens of the Commonwealth of nations (in essence, the UK and former British colonies). As of 2014 the award is open to authors worldwide so long as their work is in English and published in the UK.
 

New Kid, by Jerry Craft - 2020 Medal Winner

Jordan Banks can’t help seeing privilege when he transfers to Riverdale Academy Day School for seventh grade. As one of the few African American students in the school, he regularly deals with racism and microaggressions. Craft creates an intimate, relatable world inviting readers in, and holds them there.

"This distinct, timely, and honest story respects children and gives its readers a glimpse into what it means to be other," said Newbery Medal Committee Chair Krishna Grady.


 
 

The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander - 2020 Honor Book

The Undefeated "is for us." Written in sparse poetic verse, the contributions of African Americans are celebrated and explored. The reader is invited on a journey of dreaming, of persevering, and of bravery. The past intersects with the present, leaving readers forging their own paths of discovery. America, this is for you.


 
 

Scary Stories for Young Foxes, by Christian McKay Heidicker - 2020 Honor Book

Seven foxes, in the dark and twisted Antler Wood, want to hear scary stories. And, they will. Imagine a character with gooey eyes. Imagine trying to slink away from the Golgathursh’s grin. And imagine Beatrix Potter as a villain. Adventure, survival, and humor all celebrate the importance of story …even scary ones.



 
 

Other Words for Home, by Jasmine Warga - 2020 Honor Book

This book follows Jude and her mother, both Muslim, who flee war-torn Syria for a new life in America. This novel in verse is an inspiring story of resilience. It explores themes of family, prejudice, and what home truly means in a timely and honest manner.




 
 

Genesis Begins Again, by Alicia D. Williams - 2020 Honor Book

This book tells the story of 13-year-old Genesis, struggling with colorism and self-loathing. Her dark skin is just one of the 96 things she does not like about herself. This powerful novel deals with family struggles and internalized racism. A hopeful ending will leave both Genesis and readers seeing the possibility of self-worth.




 

 

Edgar Awards

Mystery Writers of America is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. MWA is dedicated to promoting higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write within the genre. Each Spring, Mystery Writers of America present the Edgar® Awards, widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious awards in the genre.
 

Best First Novel - Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim

How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they're part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it's clear the explosion wasn’' A powerful showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Chapter by chapter, we shift alliances and gather evidence: Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn't safe?

"A stunning debut about parents, children and the unwavering hope of a better life, even when all hope seems lost" (Washington Post), Miracle Creek uncovers the worst prejudice and best intentions, tense rivalries and the challenges of parenting a child with special needs. It's "a quick-paced murder mystery that plumbs the power and perils of community" (O Magazine) as it carefully pieces together the tense atmosphere of a courtroom drama and the complexities of life as an immigrant family. Drawing on the author's own experiences as a Korean-American, former trial lawyer, and mother of a "miracle submarine" patient, this is a novel steeped in suspense and igniting discussion. Recommended by Erin Morgenstern, Jean Kwok, Jennifer Weiner, Scott Turow, Laura Lippman, and more-- Miracle Creek is a brave, moving debut from an unforgettable new voice.

Best Novel - The Stranger Diaries, by Elly Griffiths

Death lies between the lines when the events of a dark story start coming true in this haunting modern Gothic mystery, perfect for fans of Magpie Murders and The Lake House.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she even teaches a course on him. But when one of Clare’s colleagues is found dead, with a line from Holland’s iconic story “The Stranger” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with her favorite literature.

The police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her diary, the only outlet for her suspicions and fears. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn't hers, left on the page of an old diary:

Hallo Clare. You don’t know me.

Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?

   

Best Paperback Original - The Hotel Neversink, by Adam O’Fallon Price

Thirty-one years after workers first broke ground, the magnificent Hotel Neversink in the Catskills finally opens to the public. Then a young boy disappears.

This mysterious vanishing—and the ones that follow—will brand the lives of three generations. At the root of it all is Asher Sikorsky, the ambitious and ruthless patriarch whose purchase of the hotel in 1931 set a haunting legacy into motion. His daughter Jeanie sees the Hotel Neversink into its most lucrative era, but also its darkest. Decades later, Asher's grandchildren grapple with the family's heritage in their own ways: Len fights to keep the failing, dilapidated hotel alive, and Alice sets out to finally uncover the murderer's identity.

Told by an unforgettable chorus of Sikorsky family members—a matriarch, a hotel maid, a traveling comedian, the hotel detective, and many others—The Hotel Neversink is the gripping portrait of a Jewish family in the Catskills over the course of a century. With an unerring eye and with prose both comic and tragic, Adam O'Fallon-Price details one man's struggle for greatness, no matter the cost, and a long-held family secret that threatens to undo it all.

 
 

Best Fact Crime - The Less People Know About Us, by Axton Betz-Hamilton

In this powerful true crime memoir, an award-winning identity theft expert tells the shocking story of the duplicity and betrayal that inspired her career and nearly destroyed her family.

Axton Betz-Hamilton grew up in small-town Indiana in the early '90s. When she was 11 years old, her parents both had their identities stolen. Their credit ratings were ruined, and they were constantly fighting over money. This was before the age of the Internet, when identity theft became more commonplace, so authorities and banks were clueless and reluctant to help Axton's parents.

Axton's family changed all of their personal information and moved to different addresses, but the identity thief followed them wherever they went. Convinced that the thief had to be someone they knew, Axton and her parents completely cut off the outside world, isolating themselves from friends and family. Axton learned not to let anyone into the house without explicit permission, and once went as far as chasing a plumber off their property with a knife.

As a result, Axton spent her formative years crippled by anxiety, quarantined behind the closed curtains in her childhood home. She began starving herself at a young age in an effort to blend in--her appearance could be nothing short of perfect or she would be scolded by her mother, who had become paranoid and consumed by how others perceived the family.

Years later, her parents' marriage still shaken from the theft, Axton discovered that she, too, had fallen prey to the identity thief, but by the time she realized, she was already thousands of dollars in debt and her credit was ruined.

The Less People Know About Us is Axton's attempt to untangle an intricate web of lies, and to understand why and how a loved one could have inflicted such pain. Axton will present a candid, shocking, and redemptive story and reveal her courageous effort to grapple with someone close that broke the unwritten rules of love, protection, and family.

Best Critical/Biographical - Hitchcock and the Censors, by John Billheimer

Throughout his career, Alfred Hitchcock had to deal with a wide variety of censors attuned to the slightest suggestion of sexual innuendo, undue violence, toilet humor, religious disrespect, and all forms of indecency, real or imagined. From 1934 to 1968, the Motion Picture Production Code Office controlled the content and final cut on all films made and distributed in the United States. Code officials protected sensitive ears from standard four-letter words, as well as a few five-letter words like tramp and six-letter words like cripes. They also scrubbed "excessively lustful" kissing from the screen and ensured that no criminal went unpunished.

During their review of Hitchcock's films, the censors demanded an average of 22.5 changes, ranging from the mundane to the mind-boggling, on each of his American films. Code reviewers dictated the ending of Rebecca (1940), absolved Cary Grant of guilt in Suspicion (1941), edited Cole Porter's lyrics in Stage Fright (1950), decided which shades should be drawn in Rear Window (1954), and shortened the shower scene in Psycho (1960).

In Hitchcock and the Censors, author John Billheimer traces the forces that led to the Production Code and describes Hitchcock's interactions with code officials on a film-by-film basis as he fought to protect his creations, bargaining with code reviewers and sidestepping censorship to produce a lifetime of memorable films. Despite the often-arbitrary decisions of the code board, Hitchcock still managed to push the boundaries of sex and violence permitted in films by charming -- and occasionally tricking -- the censors and by swapping off bits of dialogue, plot points, and individual shots (some of which had been deliberately inserted as trading chips) to protect cherished scenes and images. By examining Hitchcock's priorities in dealing with the censors, this work highlights the director's theories of suspense as well as his magician-like touch when negotiating with code officials.

     

Young Adult - Catfishing on CatNet, by Naomi Kritzer

Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anyplace longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet―a social media site where users upload cat pictures―a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I.

When a threat from Steph’s past catches up to her and ChesireCat’s existence is discovered by outsiders, it’s up to Steph and her friends, both online and IRL, to save her.




 

National Book Awards

First awarded in 1950, the National Book Awards recognize the best of American literature. The Awards are announced in November.




 

Winners to be Announced on November 18th!!