Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another View of "Shine" and the National Book Foundation

The scandal with Lauren Myracle's Shine and Franny Billingsley's Chime continues to make readers livid. To get caught up with the original news story, read details here. The National Book Foundation created a mess, yes. But Lambda Literary, an LGBT literature website, recently posted an article with a good point: while Myracle and Billingsley have been fighting off the press, we can't forget about the other four finalists on the Young Adult National Book Awards list.

My Name is Not Easy by Debbie Dahl Edwardson
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin
Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt

All incredible reads by talented writers. The 2011 National Book Awards will surely be an event to go down in literary history. Everyone involved feels unsettled in some way or another.

And Myracle, of course, has been put in a tricky position. On the one hand, she was forced to keep her head high and withdraw from the running, even though her book is great and the finalist announcement was not her mistake. Her hopes soared at first, and then her pride needed to fall to the wayside. Her published words were first celebrated and then awkwardly set aside. On the other hand, however, what better marketing tool than having your recent novel all over the news? YA readers and Myracle supporters have hit the bookstores for a copy of Shine and urged others to do the same.

At the end of the day, someone will still win the 2011 National Book Award and that will be that. But regardless of who gets awarded what honor, the truth is that all six books have made an impact on the young adult community. Readers are grateful for the six finalists and their words, and the gratitude ranges from person to person. Perhaps the National Book Award scandal, and really the YA genre in general, can be summed up in an anonymous Twitter post shortly after the news spread through the media:

"As a gay boy living in NC," the blogger said. "Thank you for Shine, which I wouldn't have known about w/o the screw-up. You may have saved my life."

Read the Lamba Literary article here.

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