Morris Awards announced finalists for best debut YA novel.

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The William C. Morris Awards announced their shortlist for 2018. Given to first-time authors whose books create impressive new voices for young adult audiences, the Morris Award finalists for 2018 are Dear Martin by Nic Stone, Devils Within by S. F. Hensen, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali and Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman.

The most likely choice for the Morris Award this year is Angie Thomas’s immensely popular The Hate U Give – though, given that it didn’t even make the shortlist for the National Book Awards, there are no guarantees. Starr Carter has learned to balance her dual life: attending an affluent prep school while living in a low-income neighborhood. When she witnesses the murder of her best friend Khalil, her two worlds collide and Starr must decide what risks she must take in order to get justice for her friend.

In Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, Justyce McAllister is the captain of the debate team and on the honor roll at Braselton Prep. After being handcuffed by the police, he must turn to the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, hoping that Dr. King’s wisdom can help him navigate today’s world. When he and his best friend are caught in a violent misunderstanding, Justyce is forced to deal with the media fallout that threatens to destroy his future.

Murder, hatred, and white supremacy take center stage in S.F Hensen’s Devils Within. When Nate Fuller kills his father in self defense, he is forced to reevaluate his definitions of trust, right and wrong. When two members of The Fort, his father’s white supremacy group, arrive in town, Nate knows that there will be blood-but he does not know whose.

S.K. Ali’s Saints and Misfits is the story of bookish Janna Yusufis, an Arab-American hijabi teen struggling to balance crushes, friendships, and her place in the Muslim faith. After she is sexually assaulted by “The Monster,” the devout cousin of her best friend, Janna must learn to stand up for herself.

In Akemi Dawn Bowman’s Starfish, Kiko Himura knows that getting into her dream art school is the only way to escape her narcissistic mother. When her rejection letter and abusive uncle show up at the same time, Kiko flees to California with her childhood crush where she meets a famous artist and finally begins to find her own voice.

Last year, the Morris Award went to The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. Previous winners include Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero.

The awards will be announced at the ALA Youth Media Awards on February 12th.

READ MORE: We featured The Hate U Give author Angie Thomas on Interrobang last year.

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About Author

Lauren Byrnes

Lauren is a college student working towards a degree in history and education. She writes a little and reads a lot. In addition to the YA world, her interests include historical nonfiction, showtunes, coffee, gender studies, and red lipstick.