Congratulations to the finalists!
Deep Water by Sarah Epstein (Allen & Unwin)
Deep Water is a captivating mystery set in a claustrophobic small town before and after a brewing storm. Childhood friendships are tested, and secrets are revealed as the teenage protagonists try to make sense of young Henry Weaver’s disappearance. Someone knows but they aren't telling. Suspenseful storytelling incorporating resonating themes.
Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller (UQP)
In Ghost Bird, Lisa Fuller captures the distinctive voice and landscape of regional Queensland, where twins Stacey and Laney confront a stark and terrifying spiritual presence in a place where modern society sits uneasily alongside the most ancient culture on earth. A tense coming-of-age story about anger and forgiveness.
How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry-Jones (HarperCollins)
Stella Price, self-help guru, believes anyone’s life can be improved. But downsizing to a caravan park, dealing with her gambling addicted father, and lying to her friends forces her to re-evaluate her worldview. Meeting her biological mother further complicates matters. Jones’s witty and nuanced narrative is authentic, messy, and bold.
It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood (Text Publishing)
Natalie’s voice is a testament to all young women. Her contrary self-identity, complex justification of choices, and hilarious flair for the dramatic, delights readers entirely. Once the side-character of her best friends’ story, Nat ultimately takes centre stage in her own burgeoning journey of love and acceptance.
This is How we Change the Ending by Vikki Wakefield (Text Publishing)
Vikki Wakefield has crafted an authentic, memorable character in Nate McKee. Nate is hurting and at risk. He is complex and well-rounded: an anti-hero, a reader of facts and writer of poetry. As signalled by the title, this fine literary work offers the possibility of hope and change despite seemingly unsurmountable odds.