Posted January 20, 2014 by in Awesome Books

Tara’s 10 Predictions for the 2014 Printz Award

The 2014 Printz Awards will be announced exactly one week from today at the American Library Association’s Mid-Winter Meeting in Philadelphia, along with the other winners of Youth Media Awards (the Caldecott, the Newbery, Morris, Coretta Scott King, Stonewall, Belpre, Odyssey, and Alex awards…to name a few). If you’ve been following Bookkaholic this fall, you may have seen my previous posts covering all aspects of the Printz award in preparation for this day! I started by explaining what the Printz Award is and looking at titles that have previously won the award. This winter I’ve been highlighting some of my top reads from the year that I think might be contenders to win the medal.

I haven’t had time to cover all of the books that might win, but I thought I’d share the top ten frontrunners (in no particular order):

2014 Printz Contenders

1. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
3. Winger by Andrew Smith
4. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

These first four novels have already been reviewed here on Bookkaholic, and I believe each is a strong contender. The title is linked to my full review of the novel, for readers who wish to know more about each. The strongest of these four is probably  The Summer Prince, because it enters very innovative territory in young adult literature and the writing is superb. Winger is a much-loved book, though it suffers from losing its direction in the middle third of the novel, resulting in a climax that comes out of nowhere. Rose was my favorite of these novels, but will Elizabeth Wein be able to snag a Prinz sticker two years in a row (she won the honor award for Code Name Verity in 2013)? And, finally, Eleanor & Park is clearly a fan favorite with an authentic voice.

2014 printz contenders 2

5. Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian
6. All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
7. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

These are three books that I’ve read, but haven’t yet reviewed. I should be posting reviews of Sex & Violence and Boxers & Saints next week. Sex & Violence is a very similar novel to Winger. It is the story of a teenage boy who has bounced from boarding school to boarding school, getting in fights and maintaining a string of sexual relationships without emotions or commitment. After a fight leaves him very bruised, his father sweeps him to a small Minnesota town to heal physically as he also learns to heal emotionally from his life without meaningful relationships with his peers, lovers, and family. The novel falls into the coming-of-age category and the writing is good. But is it spectacular? I think so.

Boxers & Saints is a pair of companion novels, which the Printz committee may or may not consider as a single book. These graphic novels tell the story of the Boxer Rebellion from the point of view of both sides, with a dash of magical realism. Boxers shows how Little Bao, a Chinese nationalist, collects his rural peers (with the help of some ancient gods) to fight the Christians taking over the capital and oppressing the Chinese citizens. Saints tells the story of Four-Girl, who finds acceptance with the Christian missionaries outside her town and converts to Christianity just before the onset of the Boxer Rebellion. Yang won the Printz for his stellar graphic novel American Born Chineseso he may be able to do it again with these incredible books.

And, finally, All the Truth That’s In Me is unique in its format of short, random passages that float in and out of time, composed in the second person. The setting is not clear, which may be the novel’s major flaw when it comes to Printz discussions, but the other elements are well done. The romance is heartbreaking, the story moves quickly with lots of action, emotions run high, and the plot is full of surprises.

2014 Printz Contenders

8. Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal
9. September Girls by Bennett Madison
10. Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

I have not personally read these three novels, but they are high up on my 2014 reading list because I’ve been reading discussions about them all fall. Each has been featured in starred reviews and best-of lists for the year, and Printz predictions have often included one or more of these books. Charm & Strange is another novel featuring a violent teenager at a boarding school trying to deal with his past. September Girls has received multiple starred reviews in professional publications, but Goodreads reviewers seem to think it is a one-star read. (One star? Ouch.) It’s not abnormal for a book to be popular with professional YA book readers and not loved at all by actual teenagers, so watching what happens with this one could be interesting. And, finally, Far, Far Away got a nod in the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature nominations, so it’s worth including on a Printz hopeful list. It’s a fairy tale-ish book about a boy who can hear the voice of Jacob Grimm. Not really my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean it won’t win an award, right?

Clearly this is the year of the ampersand in YA publishing, huh? Keep an eye out for these novels to win awards next week, and I’ll be here to post the results (and my feeling on them) the following week! Which YA novels have caught your eye for awards this year?


Former middle school teacher and school librarian, current doctoral student in education. Reader of all things young adult. I'm particularly fond of dystopian societies, sassy female protagonists, and clever dialogue. I can often be found asleep with a book on my face. Check out all my articles.