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2008 ALEX AWARDS
ADULT TITLES WITH TEEN APPEAL

 

The Alex Awards are given by the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from the previous year's publishing. Click on the title to search the Library’s online catalog.

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American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China by Matthew Polly
Growing up a ninety-eight-pound weakling tormented by bullies in the schoolyards of Kansas, Matthew Polly dreamed of one day journeying to the Shaolin Temple in China to become the toughest fighter in the world, like Caine in his favorite 1970s TV series Kung Fu.
   
  Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff
Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder. She tells police that she is a member of a secret organization devoted to fighting evil; her division is called the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons-"Bad Monkeys" for short. This confession earns Jane a trip to the jail's psychiatric wing, where a doctor attempts to determine whether she is lying, crazy-or playing a different game altogether. What follows is one of the most clever and gripping novels you'll ever read.
   
  Essex County Volume 1: Tales from the Farm by Jeff Lemire
Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder. She tells police that she is a member of a secret organization devoted to fighting evil; her division is called the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons-"Bad Monkeys" for short. This confession earns Jane a trip to the jail's psychiatric wing, where a doctor attempts to determine whether she is lying, crazy-or playing a different game altogether. What follows is one of the most clever and gripping novels you'll ever read.
   
Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden

He was born Temujin, the son of a khan, raised in a clan of hunters migrating across the rugged steppe. Temujin’s young life was shaped by a series of brutal acts: the betrayal of his father by a neighboring tribe and the abandonment of his entire family, cruelly left to die on the harsh plain. But Temujin endured—and from that moment on, he was driven by a singular fury: to survive in the face of death, to kill before being killed, and to conquer enemies who could come without warning from beyond the horizon. Through a series of courageous raids against the Tartars, Temujin’s legend grew. And so did the challenges he faced—from the machinations of a Chinese ambassador to the brutal abduction of his young wife, Borte. Blessed with ferocious courage, it was the young warrior’s ability to learn, to imagine, and to judge the hearts of others that propelled him to greater and greater power. Until Temujin was chasing a vision: to unite many tribes into one, to make the earth tremble under the hoofbeats of a thousand warhorses, to subject unknown nations and even empires to his will.

   
  The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle
"When her older sister runs away to marry a rodeo cowboy, Alice Winston is left to bear the brunt of her family's troubles - a depressed, bedridden mother; a reticent, overworked father; and a run-down horse ranch. As the hottest summer in fifteen years unfolds and bills pile up, Alice is torn between dreams of escaping the loneliness of her duty-filled life and a longing to help her father mend their family and the ranch." "To make ends meet, the Winston's board the pampered horses of rich neighbors, and for the first time Alice confronts the power and security that class and wealth provide. As her family and their well-being become intertwined with the lives of their clients, Alice is drawn into an adult world of secrets and hard truths, and soon discovers that people - including herself - can be cruel, can lie and cheat, and every once in awhile, can do something heartbreaking and selfless. Ultimately, Alice and her family must weather a devastating betrayal and a shocking, violent series of events that will test their love and prove the power of forgiveness."
   
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived. In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.
   
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
In a novel that is at once intense, beautiful, and fablelike, Lloyd Jones weaves a transcendent story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the power of narrative to transform our lives. On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, where the teachers have fled with most everyone else, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn, who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read to the children each day from Charles Dickens’s classicGreat Expectations. So begins this rare, original story about the abiding strength that imagination, once ignited, can provide. As artillery echoes in the mountains, thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip in a city called London, a city whose contours soon become more real than their own blighted landscape. As Mr. Watts says, "A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe." Soon come the rest of the villagers, initially threatened, finally inspired to share tales of their own that bring alive the rich mythology of their past. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination can be a dangerous thing.
   
  The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
"The tale of Kvothe, from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages, you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But this book is so much more, for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe's legend"
   
The Night Birds by Thomas Maltman
The summer of 1876 feels like the end of the world to fourteen-year-old Asa Senger. Locusts plague the prairie farms; his family is about to lose everything. The Dakota Indians have been banished from Minnesota, yet an aged Indian appears. His father, the sheriff, jails him, counting on a bounty payment, but Asa is somehow compelled to free the old man, and must bear this guilt. The James-Younger gang, preparing to rob Northfield, stops at their farmhouse. What has propelled them into his life? In this time of fear, another mysterious visitor appears, an aunt who has been confined to an asylum for years. His mother wants nothing to do with her; his father welcomes her. Asa learns that his identity is bound up in a lost history, The Great Sioux Uprising, which everyone else wants to forget. Prefigured by the twin ravens Hunin and Munin-Memory and Understanding-from his dead grandfather's treasured Grimm's fairy tales, Asa learns that the past is as close as his own heartbeat.
   
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
"The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself - all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission." "As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire." "Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling but remains suspicious of the author's sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves."
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