Davis, Amanda. Wonder When You’ll Miss Me. William Morrow/HarperCollins, $24.95 (0-688-16781-0).
After she is sexually assaulted under the school bleachers, 16-year old Faith runs away from home, accompanied by The Fat Girl, a taunting imaginary former self. At the circus, Faith finds a safe haven and healing environment.
Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Doubleday, $22.95 (0-385-50945-6).
In this acclaimed and engaging debut, Christopher, an autistic math wiz, takes his life too literally and can’t relate to others. Inspired by Sherlock Holmes, he investigates the death of his neighbor’s dog and unravels secrets closer to home.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Riverhead, $24.95 (1-57322-245-3).
Set amid the destruction of contemporary Afghanistan, this debut novel follows two boys, linked by love, lies, sacrifice, and betrayal, whose friendship endures, despite different life paths.
Niffenegger, Audrey. The Time Traveler’s Wife. MacAdam Cage, $25.00 (1-931561-46-X)
In this arresting debut romance, Henry travels through time and space and meets his bride Clare in all her stages of life, from childhood to old age.
Packer, Z.Z. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. Riverhead, $24.95 (1-57322-234-8).
The predominantly African-American characters in this debut collection of short fiction struggle to maintain their sense of self while confronting unexpected life events.
Roach, Mary. Stiff. Norton, $23.95 (0-393-05093-9).
What happens to human cadavers if they fall into the hands of scientists and researchers? Salon columnist Mary Roach explores this question in her funny, informative, and highly original study.
Salzman, Mark. True Notebooks. Knopf, $24.00 (0-375-41308-1).
While teaching writing to 17-year-olds detained in the Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall, Salzman was surprised by the boys’ talent. Their heartwarming and funny voices are included in this irresistible and provocative memoir.
Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. Pantheon, $17.95 (0-375-42230-7)
In graphic novel format, the author describes her youth in revolutionary Iran. From the overthrow of the Shah to the establishment of the new regime, she witnesses heartbreak and struggle as life changes in her country.
Winspear, Jacqueline. Maisie Dobbs. Soho, $24.00 (1-56947-330-7).
In post World War I London, Maisie Dobbs takes her first case as a private investigator and experiences flashbacks to her modest upbringing and doomed wartime romance. This unique historical mystery is the first in a proposed series.
Yates, Bart. Leave Myself Behind. Kensington, $23.00 (0-7582-1348-9).
Secrets of the present and past complicate 17-year-old Nick’s life when he falls in love with the boy next door. A psychologically complex and emotionally satisfying debut novel.
2004 Alex Award Committee: Chair, Judy Sasges, Sno-Isle (Wash.) Libraries; Peter Butts, East Middle School, Holland, MI; Angela Carstensen, Staten Island Academy, NY; Michael Cart, San Diego, CA; Mary Hastler, Harford County Public Library, MD; Kimberley Hrivnak, Sto-Rox Library, PA; Angela Leeper, Wake Forest, NC; Karlan Sick, New York Public Library; Ann Theis, Chesterfield County Public Library, VA; Terry Beck, Administrative Assistant, Sno-Isle (Wash.) Libraries.