Walden Award Finalist

Openly Straight cover
Openly Straight has been named one of five finalists for the 2014 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award!

What an honor!

There are a bunch of things about this that make me particularly happy. One is the caliber of authors on this list. The other books are:
Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell
Jumped In – Patrick Flores-Scott
The Milk of Birds – Sylvia Whitman
Winger – Andrew Smith

Rainbow and Andrew are friends, and their books are all over the place. And for good reason; they are two of the finest authors out there today — in any genre. I was not familiar with Patrick and Sylvia’s work, but I got a chance to sleuth a little bit yesterday, and both books are immediately to the front of my To Be Read pile. (And yeah, that’s a big pile).

The other thing that makes me particularly happy about this is the criteria for the award. The award committee chose books that demonstrate “a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and literary merit.”

The first is meaningful to me because becoming a more positive, upbeat person has been one of my main goals the last three or four years. And the final two are meaningful because that’s the cross-section where I want to live as an author. I want to write books that have literary merit, but also a story. I want them to exercise the mind, and make people think, and I want them to make people laugh.

And the last thing that makes me particularly happy about this is that the award committee has done such a nice job in the past with this award. I saw last year’s panel at ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents), and it included three friends who are authors I particularly admire: Benjamin Alire Saenz, A.S. King, and Eliot Schrefer. Not there was the winner, John Green, for The Fault in Our Stars. Whom I also admire greatly.

So yeah, I’m thrilled. Thank you to the committee for considering Openly Straight!