1998 Alex Awards

Bodanis, David. The Secret Family: Twenty-four Hours Inside the Mysterious Worlds of Our Minds and Bodies. 1997. Simon & Schuster, $27.50 (0-684-81019-0); paper, $18 (0-684-84593-8).

By following the activities of one family, Bodanis peels back the layers of our minds and bodies to reveal a churning world of tiny, invisible components, living and inanimate, in our surroundings and in us.

Bragg, Rick. All Over but the Shoutin’. 1997. Pantheon, $25 (0-679-44258-8); Vintage, paper, $14 (0-679-77402-5).

In this comic, poignant memoir that begins in Alabama in 1959, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist recalls growing up poor and white as well as his love for his courageous mother, who raised him and taught him what really mattered.

Carroll, Rebecca. Sugar in the Raw: Voices of Young Black Girls in America. 1997. Crown, paper, $12 (0-517-88497-6).

Teenagers will hear themselves echoed in the honest, unfiltered words of 15 young black women, who speak candidly about their personal lives, their race, their gender, and their future as black women.

Cook, Karin. What Girls Learn. 1997. Pantheon, $23 (0-679-44828-4); Vintage, paper, $13 (0-679-76944-7).

Cook’s first novel reads as if it were written just for teens. Two sisters––Tilden, quiet and good; Elizabeth, the family rebel––are thrust into uncharted territory when their beloved mother is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Hamill, Pete. Snow in August. 1997. Little, Brown, $23.95 (0-316-34094-4); paper, Warner, $7.50 (0-446-60625-1).

Eleven-year-old Michael Devlin, growing up in a prejudiced, working-class Brooklyn neighborhood, finds an unexpected friend in Rabbi Judah Hirsch, a refugee from Prague, who trades wonderful stories from Jewish folklore for lessons in English and American culture.

Junger, Sebastian. The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men against the Sea. Norton, $25 (0-303-04016-X); Harper Mass Market, paper, $6.99 (0-06-101351-X).

In 1991, as Halloween nears, a cold front moves south from Canada, a hurricane swirls over Bermuda, and an intense storm builds over the Great Lakes. These forces converge to create the cruelest holiday trick of all, a tempest that catches the North Atlantic fishing fleet off guard and unprotected.

Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster. 1997. Villard, $24 (0-679-45752-6); Anchor, $7.99 (0-385-49208-1).

Only a handful of people have stood atop Everest. Krakauer is one of them, but the story he tells is not about glorious triumph. It’s about a 1996 climbing disaster in which he nearly lost his life, and about survivor guilt and human endurance.

Thomas, Velma Maia. Lest We Forget: The Passage from Africa to Slavery and Emancipation. 1997. Crown, $29.95 (0-609-60030-3).

In a cleverly designed interactive book, the creator of the Black Holocaust Exhibit relates the struggle of her people––from the African villages to the boats, from the plantations to the end of the Civil War and Jubilee, the day of freedom.

Trice, Dawn Turner. Only Twice I’ve Wished for Heaven. 1997. Crown, $23 (0-517-70428-5); Anchor, paper, $12 (0-385-49123-9).

Eleven-year-old Tempest feels like an outsider in the planned community for African Americans where her parents have moved. What saves her is a friendship with troubled Valerie and secret trips to Miss Jonetta’s store, where she discovers courage and caring as well as terrible secrets about the world of grown-ups and about her friend.

Willis, Connie. To Say Nothing of the Dog; or, How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last. 1997. Bantam, $23.95 (0-553-0995-7); paper, $6.99 (0-553-57538-4).

A glitch caused by a time traveler from 2057 will change the course of history unless time traveler Ned Henry returns to the year 1888 to set things right.