2003 Alex Award Winners

one hundred demons

Barry, Lynda. One Hundred Demons. Sasquatch, $24.95 (0-57061-337-0). 

Whether she’s talking about head lice, old boyfriends, or hippies who “forgot” to pay her wages, Barry playfully explores, in “autobifictionalographical” text and art, those demons common to teens––and to us all.

my losing season

Conroy, Pat.   My Losing Season.   Doubleday/Nan A Talese, $27.95 (0-385-48912-9).

In this powerful memoir, best-selling novelist Conroy explores the profound effect of his final year as a point guard for the Citadel’s basketball team, interweaving stories about the years leading up to college, his abusive father, his love-hate relationship with his school, and his growing fondness for books and writing.

seeing in the dark

Ferris, Timothy. Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril. Simon & Schuster, $26 (0-684-86579-3).

Differentiating between the nature of stargazing done by professionals in well-equipped observatories and the work of backyard scientists using homemade telescopes, Ferris invites teens to join the scientific community by tracing contributions of amateur astronomers, ranging from Copernicus to Brian May.

the eyre affair

Fforde, Jasper.   The Eyre Affair. Viking, $23.95 (0-670-03064-3).

Meet Thursday Next, a literary detective for England’s Special Operations Network.   Her mission: to stop a serial killer who enters books and kills literary characters. Mr. Quaverly has already disappeared from copies of Martin Chuzzlewit. Jane Eyre, beware!   It’s mystery, science fiction, and social satire. It’s also lots of fun.

crow lake

Lawson, Mary. Crow Lake. Dial, $23.95 (0-385-33611-X); Bantam, paper, $12.95 (0-385-33767-9).

Now a successful zoology professor, Kate recalls her parents’ death and being brought up and sustained by her older brothers, especially Matt with whom she shares a love of the wonders of nature. An affecting novel about hardship, tragedy, choices, and family relationships.

the year of ice

Malloy, Brian.   The Year of Ice. St. Martin’s, $22.95 (0-312-28948-0).

Malloy’s first novel is a memorable story of the emotional complexities of American families and the complications of coming of age. High-school senior Kevin Doyle is literally skating on thin ice: a self-described “alpha male,” he is secretly gay and increasingly estranged from his father, who has a secret of his own.

when the emperor was divine

Otsuka, Julie.   When the Emperor Was Divine. Knopf, $18 (0-375-41429-0).

A short and understated, but also powerful novel in which members of a Japanese-American family, forced to move from a happy California home to cramped, humiliating detention camps set up by the American government, return home after World War II to find suspicious neighbors, a vandalized house, and a broken family.

the dive from clausen’s pier

Packer, Ann. The Dive from Clausen’s Pier. Knopf/Borzoi, $24 (0-375-41282-4); Vintage, paper, $14 (0-375-72713-2).

A reckless attempt to impress Carrie, Mike’s dive off Clausen’s pier rendered him paralyzed. Now Carrie finds herself torn between the loyalty she’s expected to feel toward Mike and her need to transform herself. She takes a dive of her own––into adulthood­­––when she escapes to New York.

  the fall of rome

Southgate, Martha. The Fall of Rome. Scribner, $23 (0-684-86500-9); paper, $12 (0-743-22721-2).

The author of an award-winning young adult novel Another Way to Dance (1998) delves deeply into the social and emotional elements that unite and divide us. Issues of race, identity, and integrity are intensely explored through a tragic human triangle comprised of the lone African American instructor at an exclusive, boys boarding school in Connecticut; a promising African American student from New York City; and a white divorcee.

10th grade

Weisberg, Joseph.   10th Grade. Random, $23.95 (0-375-50584-9); paper, $11.95 (0-8129-6662-7).

What Jeremy Reskin lacks in grammatical skill he more than makes up for in self-reflection in this record of the events of his sophomore year, which reveals his fascination with new-girl-in-town Renee Shopmaker, his changing relationships with his family, and his attempts to sort out the nature of friendship.

The 2003 Alex Award Committee: Co-chairs Deborah Taylor, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD, and David Mowery, Brooklyn (NY) Public Library; Michael Cart, Chico, CA; Betty Carter, Coppell, TX; Jack Forman, San Diego (CA) Mesa College Library; Pamela Spencer Holley, Virginia Beach, VA; Bonnie Kunzel, New Jersey State Library, Trenton, NJ; Susan Riley, Mount Kisco (NY) Public Library; Judy Sasges, Sno-Isle Regional Library, Marysville WA; Stephanie Zvirin, consultant, Booklist, Chicago, IL.