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 2021 award.
Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn, translated by Sandy Joosun Lee, published by HarperVia, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (ISBN 9780062961372). At age 16, Yunjae, a neurodiverse teen, is left alone in the world when tragedy strikes his family. Unable to identify and express emotion, he must learn to decode social situations on his own and find a way to survive.
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart,published by Orbit Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group (ISBN 9780316541428). While whispers of revolution cross the empire, Lin struggles to earn the emperor’s love and her place as his heir by learning a dangerous magic. Three other storylines begin to tangle around her, as an ancient adversary awakens, threatening to destroy their island world.
The Book Collectors: a band of Syrian rebels and the stories that carried them through a war by Delphine Minoui, translated by Lar Vergnaud, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, a division of Macmillan (ISBN 9780374115166). A Facebook photo leads to an online friendship between French-Iranian journalist Minoui and a group of young Syrian men fighting for freedom in bomb-torn Daraya. After finding books in the town’s wreckage, the men assemble a secret library, creating a sanctuary for those remaining behind.
The Bright Lands by John Fram, published by Hanover Square Press (ISBN 9781335836625). Ten years ago, Joel Whitley left his conservative hometown in Texas to escape football, homophobia, and scandal. Only his younger brother’s desperation can lure him back to this town, shrouded in secrets and concealing the dark price young men pay for glory.
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas, published by HarperCollins (ISBN 9780062905659). Ines enters the gothic, cult-like elite college expecting decadence, not a home, friends, or a deadly mystery. The more she fights succumbing to Catherine House, the more Ines finds herself drawn tightly into its dangerous secrets.
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin, published by Orbit Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group (ISBN 9780316509848). In a fantasy inspired by our own world, human avatars representing the boroughs of New York City unite against an outside force intent on destruction. To be successful, they must find the avatar who represents the city as a whole and combine their power.
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, published by Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC (ISBN 9780593128480). At a unique school of magic, containing neither teachers nor grades, students take classes and fight dangerous creatures to not only graduate, but survive. Outsider Galadriel finds herself paired with the school hero while also trying to make alliances and manage her immense dark power.
Devolution: a first-hand account of the Rainier Sasquatch massacre by Max Brooks, published by Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC (ISBN 9781984826787). In contrast to Mount Rainier’s tranquil views, natural disaster strikes, stranding a small group of isolated residents to truly fend for themselves as they discover they might not be alone. Piecing together journal entries and interviews, a reporter urges readers to separate fact from fiction in this unsettling thriller.
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC (ISBN 9781524746025). Fourteen-year-old Adunni wants an education and for her voice to be heard, but the cultural dictates of Nigerian society repeatedly crush these desires. As her journey takes unexpected twists and turns, she finds help and hope in unlikely places.
The God Game by Danny Tobey, published by St. Martin’s Press (ISBN 9781250306142. A group of teens is sucked into a game controlled by a godlike Artificial Intelligence that they hope will save them from the stresses of senior year. They quickly realize that this game has real life consequences and the sinister AI has its own agenda.
Highfire by Eoin Colfer, published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins (ISBN 9780062938558). In the Louisiana swamp, Squib, a boy of limitless curiosity and a knack for trouble, becomes the tie between Vern, the last living dragon, and Hooke, a corrupt cop. Hilarious hijinks ensue.
Invisible Differences: a story of Asperger’s, adulting, and living a life in full color by Julie Dachez, illustrated by Mademoiselle Caroline, translated by Edward Gauvin, published by Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group, LLC (ISBN 9781620107669). This graphic novel authentically captures a young woman yearning to understand her differences. A diagnosis of Asperger's changes her black and white life dramatically, teaching her to ration her energy, develop her interests, and find friends that bring full color into her world.
The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Pengyuin Random House LLC (ISBN 9780525656784). Two outcasts, a gay teen and his statuesque athletic next-door neighbor become unlikely confidants. Each is dealing with their own secrets and struggles when an act of violence ultimately changes the trajectory of their lives.
The Last Stargazers: the enduring story of astronomy’s vanishing explorers by Emily Levesque, published by Sourcebooks (ISBN 9781492681076). Using a clear, conversational tone, Levesque, a professional astronomer, introduces the reader to her exciting and ever changing field. The author’s personal experiences illustrate the realities of a career unfamiliar to most people and provide a great example of women in the sciences.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, published by Del Rey, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC (ISBN 9780525620785). Noemi leaves behind her glamorous life in 1950s Mexico City to rescue her newlywed cousin. Arriving at dark and foreboding High Place, Noemi discovers the family has dangerous secrets, a mysterious past, and ways to make her stay forever.Olympic Pride, American Prejudice: the untold story of 18 African Americans who defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Deborah Riley Draper and Travis Thrasher, published by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (ISBN 9781501162152). In 1936, eighteen African American men and women earned their place to compete for team USA in Berlin, Germany. Because of blatant prejudice and systemic racism at home, their achievements are not well known to the majority of Americans. This well-researched book finally tells their stories.
One Life by Megan Rapinoe with Emma Brockes, published by Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC (ISBN 9781984881168). Megan Rapinoe, soccer star, Olympic gold medalist, and two-time Women’s World Cup champion, chronicles her small-town upbringing, athletic career, and coming out. Recognizing her white privilege, she leverages her public platform to fight inequality and speak out for social justice.
The Resisters by Gish Jen, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC (ISBN 9780525657217). In a dystopian future where "Aunt Nettie" watches everything and climate change floods the earth, a small group rebels by playing baseball in secret. Led by Gwen and her parents, the baseball league restores the importance of family, friendship and freedom.
Sigh, Gone: a misfit’s memoir of great books, punk rock, and the fight to fit in by Phuc Tran, published by Flatiron Books (ISBN 9781250194718). Reflecting on his life's journey from Vietnamese refugee to tattoo artist and classicist, Tran considers the identities he's wielded (bookworm, skateboarder, punk rocker) while processing the racism he has seen, felt, and even perpetuated.
Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott, published by Tom Doherty Associates/Tor Books (ISBN 9781250197245). In this science-fiction adventure, Princess Sun has finally come of age. Now is her time to show the galaxy and her family what she can achieve. Hang on as she fights intergalactic battles and dodges court drama and espionage, while distinguishing friend from foe.