2002 Alex Award Winners

year of wonders

Geraldine Brooks.
Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague.

A year after the plague strikes her village, Anna reflects on how the townsfolk handled their minister's request to remain in town to prevent the illness from spreading. Faith, then healing herbs and potions keep everyone going--until doubt creeps in, and witch-hunting, greed, and madness take over the villagers' lives.

an american insurrection

William Doyle.
An American Insurrection: The Battle of Oxford, Mississippi, 1962.

When James Meredith became the first black man to enter the University of Mississippi, he "forced America to face the contradiction of second-class citizenship for multitudes of its black citizens, not with speeches, boycotts, or sit-ins, but on a battlefield." Doyle takes teens to two of those battlefields: a cerebral one where Meredith, President John Kennedy, and Governor Barnett grapple over politics; and a physical one, where federal troops and local mobs converge on the university campus.

gabriel's story

David Anthony Durham.
Gabriel's Story.

Upset when he has to leave Baltimore to join his mother and her new husband on a Kansas farm, 15-yearold African American Gabriel and his new friend, James, run away from their homes to join a group of mostly white cowboys herding cattle to Texas. Too late, they realize that their cowboy comrades are their worst enemies. A graphic, richly poetic view of frontier life during Reconstruction.

nickel and dimed

Barbara Ehrenreich.
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in Boom-Time America.

To find out if individuals can survive on the "wages available to the unskilled," journalist Ehrenreich spent 12 months working at a variety of minimum-wage jobs. Her experiences offer a gritty glimpse into the world of day-to-day work, a stark picture of living from hand to mouth, and a personal perspective on the politics of welfare.

peace like a river

Leif Enger.
Peace like a River

Set in a quiet 1960s Minnesota community, this magical debut novel centers around 11-year-old asthmatic Reuben Land and his family: his father, his brother, and his precocious younger sister. Life turns upside down when Davy, Reuben's older brother, kills two intruders who plan to harm the family. After Davy breaks out of jail, the Lands leave their home and set out to find him.

the wilderness family

Kobie Kruger.
The Wilderness Family: At Home with Africa's Wildlife.

Kruger eagerly embraced her husband's assignment to a remote ranger station in South Africa, where her life revolved around temperamental hippos, rambunctious badgers, and three beautiful, willful daughters. What she didn't count on was the starving lion cub that her husband brought home.

kit's law

Donna Morrissey.
Kit's Law.

Kit lives in a ramshackle cottage with her mentally challenged mother, Josie, the town tramp, and her loving, protective grandmother, Lizzy. When Lizzy dies, Kit fights to keep her mother out of an asylum, but Josie's wild ways make it difficult. Speculations about the identity of Kit's father and Kit's first love add more texture to this earthy but charming first novel, which is set in Newfoundland.

the rover

Mel Odom.
The Rover.

Four-feet-tall Wick, Third Level Librarian in the Vault of All Known Knowledge, is an imaginative Halfer who longs for the drama he reads about in books. He finally gets a chance to experience adventure when he's kidnapped by pirates, sold into slavery, rescued by thieves, and sent to rob a tomb. Lighthearted, exuberant, and fun.


Vineeta Vijayaraghavan.

Fifteen-year-old Maya must reconcile her Indian heritage with her life as a modern American teen when she goes to spend the summer with her grandmother in India. An accident and an unexpected illness are the catalysts for the revelation of a family secret that gives Maya a profoundly different view of her mother--and ultimately herself.

black, white, and jewish

Rebecca Walker.
Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self.

Born in 1969 to civil rights activists who defied convention, Walker was a "movement child." But when the movement changed course, and her white father and black mother divorced, Walker found herself without an identity--a misfit: too black for some; not black enough for others. A poignant, sometimes angry recollection about racism, growing up, growing away, and finding oneself.