Michigan Library Association (MLA) Thumbs Up! Award
The Thumbs Up! Award is given once a year to a book for teens, ages 13 to 18, which is considered to be well-written and have teen appeal. One of the neat things about it is that teens get to voice their opinion on which book should win the award via a vote.
This year’s winner’s and honor books will be announced at the Spring Institute which will be held this year in Ann Arbor, March 19 and 20. You can find this year’s nominees below, then visit the MLA website to vote for your favorites!
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
As the daughter of an underground hip-hop legend who died right before he hit big, sixteen-year-old Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral-for all the wrong reasons. Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it-she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public made her out to be.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Nothing has ever been easy for Harper, but when she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world. Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.
Lovely War by Julie Berry
They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.
Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson
Shaun David Hutchinson was nineteen. Confused. Struggling to find the vocabulary to understand and accept who he was and how he fit into a community in which he couldn’t see himself. The voice of depression told him that he would never be loved or wanted, while powerful and hurtful messages from society told him that being gay meant love and happiness weren’t for him. Thankfully Shaun survived, and over time, came to embrace how grateful he is and how to find self-acceptance. In this courageous and deeply honest memoir, Shaun takes readers through the journey of what brought him to the edge, and what has helped him truly believe that it does get better.
Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller
Camille couldn’t be having a better summer. But on the very night she learns she got into a prestigious theater program, she also finds out she’s pregnant. She definitely can’t tell her parents. And her best friend, Bea, doesn’t agree with the decision Camille has made. Camille is forced to try to solve her problem alone and the system is very much working against her. At her most vulnerable, Camille reaches out to Annabelle Ponsonby, a girl she only barely knows from the theater. Happily, Annabelle agrees to drive her wherever she needs to go. And in a last-minute change of heart, Bea decides to come with.
With Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Ever since she got pregnant during freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions, doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen. There, she lets her hands tell her what to cook, listening to her intuition and adding a little something magical every time, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Even though she’s always dreamed of working in a kitchen after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. But then an opportunity presents itself to not only enroll in a culinary arts class in her high school, but also to travel abroad to Spain for an immersion program.
How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates
A plague, called Wickedness, is pulsing through the world; and in its wake, it’s dividing the population into thirds: The WICKED: Already infected by the droves of Singers, the ultraviolet mosquito-like insects who carry the plague, the Wicked roam the world freely. They don’t want for much-only to maim and dismember you. The TRUE: The True live in contained, isolated communities. They’re the lucky ones; they found safety from the Singers. And while the threat of the Wicked may not be eliminated, for the True, the threat has certainly been contained. The VEXED: The Vexed are the truly fortunate ones-they survived the sting of the Singers, leaving them immune. But they’re far from safe. The Vexed hold the key to a cure, and there are those who will do anything to get it.
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden. Girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive. Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life-a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear.
Slay by Brittney Morris
By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game she developed, SLAY. But when a teen is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?
Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there. The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good. With a new circle of friends-fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill-Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue. But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.