The finalists for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award were announced on Monday, with Elizabeth Acevedo and Randy Ribay among the authors up for the young adult literary prize. The annual award is given by the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents at the National Council of Teachers of English.
Acevedo made the shortlist for With the Fire on High, her novel about a teenage girl learning to cook while raising her toddler daughter. A reviewer for Kirkus called the book “sabroso” (tasty). Acevedo won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2018 for her debut book, The Poet X, which was also a Kirkus Prize finalist.
Ribay made the cut for Patron Saints of Nothing, which a Kirkus reviewer called “powerful and courageous.” The book follows an immigrant teenager who returns to his native Philippines after his cousin is killed by police officers.
Julie Berry’s Lovely War, a historical romance based on Greek mythology, made the cut, as did Abdi Nazemian’s Like a Love Story, about three teenagers navigating the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York.
Rounding out the shortlist is Kip Wilson’s White Rose, about a young girl in World War II-era Germany who goes from Hitler Youth member to Nazi resistance leader.
The Walden Award is presented to the author of a book that demonstrates “a positive approach to life.” It comes with a $5,000 cash prize.
The winner will be announced on May 11.
Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.