In addition to the ten winning titles, the Alex Award committee also publishes a vetted list of official nominations. The following titles were official nominees for the 2019 award.
“Black Girls Rock: Owning Our Magic. Rocking Our Truth,” edited by Beverly Bond, published by 37INK, an imprint of Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster (9781501157929). Being black and female in this world is not easy. So Beverly Bond founded the Black Girls Rock! movement, complete with this collection of essays by and about some of the most successful black women in the world. Inspirational and affirmational, this book celebrates and empowers both its authors and its audience.
“My Sister, the Serial Killer,” by Oyinkan Braithwaite, published by Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House (978-0385544238). Ayoola is beautiful--and she just killed boyfriend number three. Korede is plain, and good at cleaning up--and covering up--her little sister's murders. Korede has been protecting Ayoola for as long as she can remember, but is blood really thicker than water? With deadpan wit and a cinematic style, this novel explores the dark side of sisterhood and sibling rivalry.
“Brother,” by David Chariandy, published by Bloomsbury Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House (978-1635572049). Michael and Francis are growing up in an housing complex in 1990s Toronto. Raised by a hard-working mother from Trinidad, they live in a time and place that expects little more beyond a life of struggle and crime. This concise, retrospective tale examines the decisions, assumptions, and the effects that tragedy has on family and community.
“Gun Love,” by Jennifer Clement, published by Hogarth, a division of Penguin Random House (978-1524761684). Pearl lives with her mother in their car outside a Florida trailer park. The lyrical prose, questionable characters, and colorful setting take readers on a dreamlike adventure into the seedier side of paradise.
“Woman World,” by Aminder Dhaliwal, illustrated by the author, published by Drawn and Quarterly (978-1770463356). Men have gone extinct, and these witty comics follow the inhabitants of the village of "Beyonce's Thighs” as they live, love, and go about the everyday business of surviving the end of the world as we know it. With deep thoughts about the meaning of life and lots of fart jokes, “Woman World” is a laugh-out-loud delight.
“Period: Twelve Voices Tell the Bloody Truth,” edited by Kate Farrell, published by Feiwel & Friends, a division of Macmillan Publishers (978-1250141941). This essay collection features different points of view--an intersex individual, a trans man, a disabled woman--and an emphasis on the issues--period equality, the pink tax, free-bleeding. These essays by a diverse group of writers break through the age-old stigma of talking about periods.
“Coyote Doggirl,” by Lisa Hanawalt, illustrated by the author, published by Drawn and Quarterly (978-1770463257). Coyote Doggirl is on the run from bad guys but otherwise feels okay about life. Then she gets shot by an arrow and loses her trusty steed. This absurdist graphic novel delights in dark humor, feminism, and a cowgirl’s love for her big dumb horse.
“The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America's Law Enforcement,” by Matthew Horace and Ron Harris, published by Hachette Books (978-0316440080). Matthew Horace has a long history in law enforcement from beat cop to Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms officer. As police officer of color, Horace knows his way around a badge and has experienced both sides of systemic racial profiling. His insightful book reports on the American law enforcement culture where suspicious behavior can be defined simply by the color of one's skin.
“The Map of Salt and Stars,” by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar, published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster (978-1501169038). Nour is an American-born girl, seeking refuge with her mother and sisters after their home in Syria is bombed. As she travels, Nour remembers her late father’s favorite story about Rawiya, a mapmaker’s assistant in ancient Middle East. As their journeys mirror each other, Nour and Rawiya search for maps that leads to home.
“Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition,” by Julia Kaye, illustrated by the author, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing (978-1449489625). This deceptively simple graphic novel explores transgender artist Julia Kaye’s transition--how hard it was to make the decision to do so, everyday issues with facial and body hair, body dysphoria, a newfound sense of self and identity, and learning to feel beautiful.
“The Driest Season,” by Meghan Kenny, published by W. W. Norton & Company (978-0393634594). When Cielle finds her father hanging in the barn, her life is upended. As if being fifteen and navigating young adulthood during the early years of World War II isn’t enough, what Cielle discovers about her father after his death nearly destroys her life and that of her family. This quiet, reflective story will stick with readers long after the last page.
“Sal,” by Mick Kitson, published by Canongate Books (978-1786891877). Peppa is now ten years old, the same age as Sal when Robert began molesting her. So Sal plans their escape for a year.. With Robert finally out of the picture, Sal and Peppa run away to the Scottish Highlands. The spunkiness of the sister, the surprising kindness of strangers, and the incredible twists and turns make this book a surprising delight.
“Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History,” by Sam Mags, illustrated by Jenn Woodall, published by Quirk Books, a division of Penguin Random House (978-1683690726). This collection highlights women who work together to solve problems, achieve goals, and change the world. From Japan's 1964 Women's Olympic Volleyball team to the women of the U.S. Supreme Court, from South Korea’s free-diving fisherwomen to Afghanistan’s all-girl orchestra, these stories of female camaraderie will educate and inspire.
“The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins,” by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, and Travis McElroy, illustrated by Carey Pietsch, published by First Second, a division of Macmillan (978-1250153708). Taako the elf, Merle the dwarf, and Magnus the human set out on a simple delivery job that turns into a quest of epic proportions. This meta-commentary role-playing fantasy adventure tale is chock-full of the same snarky sense of fun as the popular podcast that inspired it.
“The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror,” by Mallory Ortberg, published by Holt Paperbacks, a division of Macmillan (978-1250113429). Everyone knows fairy tales are actually morbid expressions of humanity's dark underbelly, but now they're even creepier! The Velveteen Rabbit has ulterior motives. Mr. Toad's friends are hardcore gaslighting him. The Little Mermaid is a very mean girl. Prepare to be delightfully disturbed.
“The Lost Queen,” by Signe Pike, published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster (978-1501191411). Languoreth and her twin brother, raised under the old gods, find themselves in conflict with the new Christian religion seeping into Britain during the sixth century. Loosely based on Arthurian legend and ancient British history, this first in a trilogy is impeccably researched and epic in scope.
“Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World),” by Rebecca Roanhorse, published by Saga Press, a division of Simon & Schuster (978-1534413504). After the world drowns in a climate-changing apocalypse and only the Navajo nation survives, Maggie Hoskie uses her supernatural abilities to tango with men, monsters and gods. She teams up with a charismatic Medicine Man to find out who is creating creatures with a thirst for human blood. This original take on the world post-apocalypse will have readers hungry for more.
“The Oracle Year,” by Charles Soule, published by Harper Perennial, a division of HarperCollins (978-0062686633). A young man mysteriously receives 108 predictions for the world’s future in a dream--some earth-shattering, some seemly inconsequential. Soule crafts a contemporary edge-of-your-seat page turner about the existence free will with characters and events that could have been ripped from today's world headlines.
“The Broken Girls,” by Simone St. James, published by Berkley, a division of Penguin Random House (978-0451476203). Idlewild Hall takes in the girls no one else wants. In 1950, four roommates survive the strict school together--until one disappears. In 2014, reporter Fiona Sheridan is obsessing about the discovery of her sister’s murdered body on the Idlewild grounds twenty years earlier. The mysteries of past and present converge in an atmospheric tale of secrets that won’t stay hidden.
“All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother,” by Danielle Teller, published by William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins (978-0062798206). Agnes is indeed the stepmother of beautiful Cinderella, and Agnes' own two daughters are decidedly less lovely than their stepsister. But the similarities between fairy tale and fact end there, and Agnes sets the record straight by telling her own story in this thoughtful tale of a lowborn woman’s rise to power.
“His Favorites,” by Kate Walbert, published by Scribner (978-1476799391). One summer night in the 1970s, Jo accidentally kills her best friend. She escapes to a New England boarding school, where she comes of age grappling with guilt and trauma and under the thumb of a popular young teacher. Reflective and raw, this novel is timely exploration of the open secrets that we willfully chose to ignore.