I’d almost forgotten I’d submitted my memoir for a BookLife award when I found out I was one of seven finalists. One book was chosen in each category and I was floored to learn that Faithful and Devoted was chosen as the best of this year’s crop of YA books. From the BookLife judges:
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.25 out of 10
Plot: The book is well plotted and moves along at a good pace. This makes for an engaging and entertaining read.
Prose: There is a relaxed, friendly tone to the prose, as if the author has always known the reader. This pulls the reader into the author’s journey.
Originality: This memoir is original. The author’s story seems fresh and will stick with the reader.
Character Development: The author does an excellent job of turning herself and Marta, her pen pal from Spain, into a well developed characters [sic]. The two are funny and believable.
As a finalist, I was also interviewed for Publishers Weekly (BookLife is PW’s indie arm), along with the six other authors. What I found interesting about the interview was that the interviewer mentioned that one of the judges, British author Vic James, says that YA memoirs are rather rare. Not sure why that is, but I definitely think there’s a place for more memoirs from younger folks. Perhaps that’s why my category was originally called “YA Fiction” but was changed shortly after I pointed out that my book is nonfiction. (I have no idea if they changed it because of my email.)
Although I didn’t end up winning the overall prize (that honor went to Ian Andrews’ detective thriller, Face Value), it was still thrilling to be in the running, particularly since one of my thesis advisor’s in grad school had discouraged me from even making it my thesis, calling it a “very, very small story.” (To that advisor: Please check out my Amazon and Goodreads reviews. Small or not, it resonates with a certain audience.)
It just goes to show you that you shouldn’t always listen to the naysayers.