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AWARD WINNERS: Morris Award Winners and Finalists

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award is a list created by YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association), a division of the American Library Association.

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Between shades of gray

Sepetys, Ruta.


In lyrical prose, Sepetys introduces readers to 15 year old Lina and her family as they are evicted from their home in Lithuania and transported to Siberia as prisoners during Stalin’s reign of terror in the 1940s. The journey is perilous; not all will survive. Lina is determined to document it all in her art and her journal. Sepetys shines a light on a corner of history not often seen in YA literature. The juxtaposition of lyricism in the midst of the horror underscores Lina’s indomitable spirit.

2012 Finalist

Paper covers rock

Hubbard, Jenny.


Alex, a junior at an exclusive boarding school, uses his journal (neatly hidden inside a copy of Moby Dick) to relate the disturbing events that led to the drowning of a classmate. Hubbard’s literary references, her creation of Alex’s poems and journal entries, and her storytelling skills combine in a story about the code of silence that often compromises the code of honor.

2012 Finalist

The girl of fire and thorns

Carson, Rae.


Elisa bears the Godstone. She is a chosen one. What she is chosen to do is unclear, but perhaps her journey to marry the king of a neighboring country in the midst of war will provide some of the answers. Carson weaves together religion, politics, prophecy, and more in this fast-paced fantasy that brings Elisa to a destiny no one could have anticipated.

2012 Finalist

The Freak Observer

Woolston, Blythe.


Loa, a strong, intelligent, hardworking sixteen-year-old girl experiences a year of loss. While trying to take care of her family and make it through school, she ponders the laws of physics as she tries to understand what can never make sense.

2011 Winner


Chayil, Eishes.


Growing up in her insular Chassidic Jewish community has always made Gittel feel secure and given her a sense of belonging. But when her best friend, Devory, hangs herself after being sexually abused, her faith in the group is challenged and only gradually does she find ways to express her desire for the community to deal with the issue.

2011 Finalist

Crossing the tracks

Stuber, Barbara, 1951-


In the 1920s, Iris' emotionally distant father sends her to rural Missouri to act as a companion to an elderly woman while he heads to Kansas City with his fiance. Iris' mother died when she was five, and it takes her some time to learn to care for Mrs. Nesbitt and see her own future with optimism.

2011 Finalist

Guardian of the dead

Healey, Karen.


Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just trying to make it through her last year of high school, but a chance interaction with the school's weirdo, Mark Nolan, puts her on a very different path filled with Maori legends come to life.

2011 Finalist

Hold me closer, necromancer

McBride, Lish.


Sam thinks his life working in a fast food restaurant is awful. But when he's confronted by a powerful necromancer, he learns that everything he thought was true about his life — isn't.

2011 Finalist

Flash burnout : a novel

Madigan, L. K.


Blake’s life is way too complicated. He’s a sophomore in high school with a girlfriend and a friend who is a girl. One of them loves him. One of them needs him. Can he please them both?

2010 Winner



Lo, Malinda.


Consumed with grief after the death of her father, Ash's only escape from her harsh life and cruel stepmother comes from re-reading the fairy tales that her mother once told her and hoping against hope that the fairies will appear to her. When the fairy Sidhean appears, Ash hopes that he will steal her away to his enchanted world; but when she meets the King's Huntress, Kaisa, she realizes that staying in her own realm can also lead to beauty, romance, and perhaps even love.

2010 Finalist

Beautiful creatures

Garcia, Kami.


Sixteen-year-old Ethan has lived all his life in Gaitlin, South Carolina, a town that hasn’t changed much since the Civil War. While coping with the loss of his mother, a father who spends all of his time in his study, and high school, his world turns upside down with the arrival of Lena, a new girl with whom he seems to share a psychic connection. As they grow closer, Ethan discovers that Lena and her family share a dark secret and that she is headed for doom on her sixteenth birthday.

2010 Finalist

The everafter

Huntley, Amy.


Maddy is a ghost, surrounded by things she lost when she was alive. By touching these objects, she relives the episodes in her life where she lost them. Even though Maddy’s dead, she explores the lessons these objects hold — and why are they still important.

2010 Finalist

Hold still

LaCour, Nina.


After Caitlin's best friend Ingrid commits suicide, Caitlin has a hard time making sense of the loss. She finds Ingrid's journal and slowly allows herself to read it and learn about why Ingrid felt the need to end her life. Caitlin also grapples with allowing herself to find another friend, to let in a boyfriend, and to understand why her favorite teacher is ignoring her. It is the haunting story of dealing with loss, moving on, and finding peace and hope.

2010 Finalist

A curse dark as gold

Bunce, Elizabeth C.


This supernatural novel retells the story of Rumpelstiltskin, setting it at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and centering it around the life of Charlotte Miller. When the bank wants to repossess her mortgaged mill, Charlotte strikes a bargain with the mysterious Jack Spinner, (a creature who knows the art of turning straw into gold), but then discovers she must free her loved ones from a generations-old curse.

2009 Winner


Cashore, Kristin.


In the Seven Kingdoms, those born with eyes of two different colors are Gracelings who develop intense and powerful skills. Katsa’s Grace is killing, and she serves as King Randa’s enforcer until she and Prince Po join forces to solve the riddle of his grandfather’s kidnapping. The closer they get to the answer and to each other, the more dangerous their quest becomes.

2009 Finalist

Me, the missing, and the dead

Valentine, Jenny.


Sixteen-year-old Londoner Lucas Swain, on a whim, decides to take a cab home and happens upon an urn with the ashes of Violet Park in the taxi office. He feels the spirit of Violet leading him through a maze of layered clues, as he bit by bit solves the puzzle of his father’s disappearance more than five years ago.

2009 Finalist


Meldrum, Christina.


Fifteen-year-old Aslaug was raised in isolation by a mother who was both strange and ill. Her mother’s death brings an onslaught of new experiences as Aslaug must learn to cope with the unwanted attention of the police, relatives she never knew she had, and multiple charges of murder.

2009 Finalist


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