The Richmond Public Library’s annual YAVA Award highlights excellence in writing for readers at the middle and high school level by Virginia authors. The YAVA Celebration began in 2013 as “Teen ‘13”. It has grown increasingly over the years to include a year-long award process culminating in the spring with our annual celebration. Beginning in 2020, the YAVA Award winner will be selected by a panel of teen judges and announced during the annual YAVA Celebration. This is our Library's biggest teen event, providing readers an opportunity to interact with local authors, learn about current young adult literature, and engage with others in the community. We value the entire YAVA Award process as an opportunity for teens to connect, engage, and become inspired.
Lamar Giles’ 2020 novel, Not So Pure and Simple (Quill Tree Books, 2020), is his first contemporary YA book. It is a story about growing up, first love, how to handle sex and peer pressure as a teen, toxic masculinity, and so much more. The author tells a narrative that is both heartfelt and authentic all while being hilarious and approachable to the teen reader.
Giles’ novel was selected as this year’s winner of the YAVA Award by a panel of teen judges. Here are some of the things they had to say about Not So Pure and Simple:
“I loved this book. I thought the pacing, plot, and characters were all excellent and I loved the theme of defeating toxic masculinity and confronting your own flaws. 10/10!”
“I found this book hilarious the entire way through. It grabbed my attention when I first started and never released it.”
“I expected the book to be primarily focused on a romance between the main character and his crush. However, as I got farther into the book, the plot deepened and layered into a multi-textured portrayal of teenage life.”
“I appreciated the many layers of themes (secular vs religious education, feminism vs toxic masculinity, friendship vs romance, and more) that ran through the novel. This is the book I would recommend my local library add to their collection.”
“This book was extremely enjoyable! I could not put it down and always read more than I intended to when I picked it up. The plot never slowed down and always kept the reader engaged. The message against toxic masculinity was clearly established and presented in a way that did not feel forced or overly educational to the point of taking away reader interest. This message felt timely and relevant to many genders, races, and ages, which made it a fantastic book!”
In addition to this novel, Giles has published both middle grade and YA fiction, across multiple genres. He is a two-time Edgar Award finalist in the YA category, for his debut YA thriller Fake ID (HarperCollins, 2014), and his second YA thriller, Endangered (HarperTeen, 2015). His third and fourth YA thrillers, Overturned (Scholastic, 2017) and Spin (Scholastic, 2019), as well as his middle-grade debut The Last Last-Day-of-Summer (Versify, 2019) received glowing New York Times reviews, and was named to multiple Best Of lists, including Time Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, and Amazon. Spin was also a YAVA Award Finalist in 2021.
Aside from his writing, Giles is also a founding member of We Need Diverse Books, an organization that advocates for essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.
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