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Readings announce 2021 Young Adult Book Prize shortlist

Readings announce 2021 Young Adult Book Prize shortlist

Readings have announced their 2021 Young Adult Book Prize shortlist, recognising the best Australian YA novels from deubut or second-time authors published in the past year.



The F Team by Rawah Arja (13+)

Tariq Nader is the ringleader of ‘The Wolf Pack’ at Punchbowl High, a school that finds itself in the news all too often for the wrong reasons. Enter Mr Archie, a new principal desperately trying to rehabilitate the school’s image, who forces Tariq and his mates to join a rugby team with rival kids from Cronulla. Heartwarming and hilarious, The F Team centres around the Lebanese-Australian community of Punchbowl. Rawah Arja wonderfully captures the adolescent struggle of trying to keep everyone happy – your mates, your parents, the girl you like, your teachers – and falling a little short.

Future Girl by Asphyxia (13+)

Piper is a Deaf teen who has been raised to pass as hearing in a world that fails to accommodate her. Life in a time of environmental catastrophe is far from easy, and when her mother loses her job, Piper must find a way to ensure their survival. She soon meets Marley, a CODA (child of Deaf adult) who shows her the wonders of growing food and begins teaching her Auslan, introducing her to a whole other world where Deafness is celebrated and embraced. A visual feast where each page is embellished with illustrations, Future Girlis an insightful look at the barriers to accessibility and inclusion faced by the Deaf community. It is a thought-provoking and hopeful Own Voices novel about finding a sense of belonging.

The End of the World is Bigger than Love by Davina Bell (13+)

Alone on a remote island, identical twin sisters Summer and Winter spend their days gorging on canned delicacies and reading through their mother’s literature collection. Life following the mysterious ‘Greying’ – a disease that has eradicated most life on earth – is largely uneventful. However, that all changes one day when a mysterious boy emerges from the woods: a boy who upends everything they once thought they knew. A post-apocalyptic read like no other, The End of the World Is Bigger than Love is a hauntingly beautiful work about a unique sisterly relationship that will stay with readers long after they’ve finished it.

The Boy from the Mish by Gary Lonesborough (14+)

Every summer Jackson’s Aunty and cousins visit his family on the Mish in rural NSW. This year they bring with them a surprise guest, Tomas, who is trying to turn his life around after leaving juvenile detention. Jackson’s relationship with his girlfriend has just ended, and he is exploring parts of his identity that scare him. When he is forced to show Tomas around, the two become involved in a beautiful, slow-burning romance. The Boy from the Mish is an intensely moving story about self-acceptance in the face of suffocating racism and homophobia. Gary Lonesborough’s debut novel is a masterclass in coming-of-age storytelling and a wonderful Own Voices story.

 Metal Fish, Falling Snow by Cath More (13+)

Following the unexpected death of her mother, Dylan finds herself in the care of her mother’s boyfriend Pat, a beer salesman. On a road trip through outback Australia, the pair are bound by little more than their shared grief. Metal Fish, Falling Snow is a portrait of a 14-year-old girl looking for her identity in the wake of immense trauma. Cath Moore’s debut YA novel deals with issues of race and identity displacement, in a voice that is rich and beautiful. This novel will stay with you long after you put it down.

Where We Begin by Christie Nieman (13+)

Seventeen-year-old Anna is running away from home on an interstate bus. With only a suitcase and a framed anatomical depiction of the human skull in hand, she ends up on the doorstep of her long-estranged grandparents’ house. As the narration shifts between the past and present, Where We Begin slowly uncovers Anna’s backstory and the secrets that have been buried by her family. Part mystery, part coming-of-age, this richly descriptive and perfectly paced novel unpacks an intricate web of lies, betrayals and secrets while also tackling complex and hard-hitting themes.