Young Adult Fiction Nominees for the 2009 Cybils Awards

Step 1: Have readers nominate heaps and heaps of great books across 9 categories.

Step 2: Have a panel read through the massive pile of nominated books to narrow it down to a set of finalists. (Finalists that are, dare we say it? Flashlight Worthy.)

Step 3: Have a second panel choose a single winner.

Step 4: Recognize that there are so many good books out there that it's almost a crime to name the aforementioned single winner.

Step 5: Work with Flashlight Worthy to spread the word of the full list of nominees.

And there you have it.

Blue Plate Special

Blue Plate Special

by Michelle D. Kwasney

With Blue Plate Special, Michelle Kwasney has crafted a finely woven plot where the threads of three lives in three different decades create an emotional and gripping tapestry. The depth of that tapestry builds as threads are broken, severed and tied back together. It's about how one teen's present is also the past of those who came before her; how the leftovers must be turned into the daily special on a life-long scale. The complexity, the attention to details, the individuality of voice, and each character's hopefulness and determination in the face of strife, make this a sometimes harrowing, though ultimately uplifting and unforgettable novel.

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Carter Finally Gets It

Carter Finally Gets It

by Brent Crawford

Picked for its laugh-out-loud raunchy hilariousness and for its larger-than-life heart, Carter Finally Gets It tells the story of Will Carter's freshman year in excruciatingly embarrassing — yet extremely funny, because it's not us — detail. Guys will recognize themselves and girls will recognize — and maybe even begin to understand — the guys they know.

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Cracked Up to Be

Cracked Up to Be

by Courtney Summers

Parker Fadley is snarky, witty and formerly perfect. Her voice is as unique as the pain motivating her prickly actions. While some might think it's just teen angst, as the layers peel off through flashbacks the real reason behind her sudden change is revealed. Brilliantly paced and mysterious, you will be left guessing until the end, all the while falling in love with a broken—and very angry teen.

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How To Say Goodbye In Robot

How To Say Goodbye In Robot

by Natalie Standiford

A quirky, strange and utterly smile-inducing novel on forming bonds, falling in love, and walking away empty-handed. Brimming with a character-driven plot, the reader is able to watch Beatrice and Jonah, both on the lower end of the social spectrum, dance a strange two-step of romance, friendship and heartbreak. Intermixed with comical episodes of a late-night radio program and a bit of a mystery, the reader will finish this book and have experienced laugh-out-loud moments, some eyebrow raising and a dash of melancholy.

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Into the Wild Nerd Yonder

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder

by Julie Halpern

High school is tough enough without being labeled a nerd. But defying stereotypes, discovering who you are, and redefining friendships are only a few of the elements that make Into the Wild Nerd Yonder an atypical reading experience. Throw in a longtime crush that ends in disaster, best friends who betray you, and a little D&D and you will be hooked on Jessie's high school year. The humor is standout, the main character, Jessie, is refreshing and snarky, and the writing makes it all come together beautifully. Whether you were a D&D player in high school or the Prom Queen, this book captures all the drama, tension and joy that can come with finding your place and defining who you are. Watch out world, nothing and no one is holding Jessie back anymore.

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North of Beautiful

North of Beautiful

by Justina Chen Headley

North of Beautiful tries to answer the age-old question — what is true beauty? Terra Cooper is artistic, athletic, and according to everyone who knows her, beautiful. That doesn’t change the fact that she has spent her entire life learning to live with the port-wine birthmark that covers the right side of her face. Raised by a domineering father and less-than-supportive mother, Terra’s amazing determination and self-esteem help her when most would simply give up. Chen has artfully created a cast of characters that provide variety and depth to this coming-of-age novel. She intertwines their lives using emotional yet realistic connections. Terra’s story encompasses so many issues, readers from all backgrounds and experiences are sure to take some meaning away from this book.

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Wintergirls

Wintergirls

by Laurie Halse Anderson

What came to the panelists' attention the most was just how daring and engrossing Wintergirls is. Lia herself is a hypnotizing narrator: her blunt honesty draws you near, only to twist your heart as she delves deeper into the finer points of her disease and reveals her secret plots to become thin, which, in Anderson's style, manages not to seem completely crazy and twisted, and will allow readers to identify with Lia on some levels. This book is not only about anorexia, but family, grief, suffering, and, ultimately, living, which is what compelled us to shortlist it.

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