Young Adult Virginia Author Awards


The Richmond Public Library’s annual Young Adult Virginia Author (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 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.



The Getaway

Lamar Giles
Jay discovers that mountain resort where he lives and works with his friends and family is also a doomsday oasis for the rich and powerful who expect top-notch customer service even as the world outside the resort's walls disintegrates. Jay is living his best life at Karloff Country, one of the world's most famous resorts. He's got his family, his crew, and an incredible after-school job at the property's main theme park. Life isn't so great for the rest of the world, but when people come here to vacation, it's to get away from all that. As things outside get worse, trouble starts seeping into Karloff. First, Jay's friend Connie and her family disappear in the middle of the night and no one will talk about it. Then the richest and most powerful families start arriving, only... they aren't leaving. Unknown to the employees, the resort has been selling shares in an end-of-the-world oasis. The best of the best at the end of days. And in order to deliver the top-notch customer service the wealthy clientele paid for, the employees will be at their total beck and call. Whether they like it or not. Yet Karloff Country didn't count on Jay and his crew--and just how far they'll go to find out the truth and save themselves. But what's more dangerous: the monster you know in your home or the unknown nightmare outside the walls?

Heat Wave

T.J. Klune
Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz are back in action bringing justice, protection, and disaster energy to the people of Nova City. An unexpected hero returns to Nova City and crash lands into Nick's home, upturning his life, his family, and his understanding of what it means to be a hero in the explosive finale of the thrilling and hilarious Extraordinaries trilogy by New York Times bestselling author TJ Klune.

Hell Followed With Us

Andrew Joseph White
Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him--the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world's population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can't get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with. But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC's leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji's darkest secret: the cult's bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all. Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick's terms... until he discovers the ALC's mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own.

High flyers : 15 inspiring women aviators and astronauts

Ann McCallum
Soar beside Black Hawk helicopter pilot turned politician Tammy Duckworth, hot-air balloonist Edgora McEwan, and medevac pilot Dede Murawsky. Meet military and commercial aviators, such as the Coast Guard's Ronaqua Russell, the first Black woman to receive the prestigious Air Medal, and Tammie Jo Shults, who successfully landed Southwest flight 1380 after a catastrophic engine failure. And reach beyond the bounds of Earth to learn of astronauts conducting critical science experiments aboard the International Space Station. These courageous women are dreamers and doers who believed, despite the odds, that soaring is possible.

I am Margaret Moore

Hannah Capin
Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill-fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger. Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood. But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It's because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It's because of what happened that night in the storm. Margaret's friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

Love times Infinity

Lane Clark
As high school junior Michie plans for her future and explores a new relationship, she tries to reconcile with some uncomfortable truths about her life which becomes more complicated when she is contacted by her estranged mother. Michie has been estranged from her mother since she was seven, and her concept of family has long felt murky. Now a high school junior, she is struggling with her scholarship essays, trying at making it into Brown as a first-generation college student. Basketball superstar Derek de la Rosa has his eye on Michie, no matter how invisible she believes herself to be. When Michie's mother unexpectedly reaches out to make amends, Michie must choose whether to reopen old wounds or close the door on her past. And as she spends more time with Derek, she'll have to decide how much of her heart she is willing to share. -- adapted from jacket.

My Imaginary Mary

Cynthia Hand
When two masterminds--Mary, the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, and Ada, the daughter of Lord Byron--are brought together by fate, they make a shocking--and magical--discovery that draws the attention of a mad scientist.


Jodi Meadows
The three kingdoms of Salvation have been at war so long that they have forgotten to watch an even bigger threat: the Malstop and the incursion from the demon plane which it contains; but as Princess Johanne of Embria contemplates her upcoming marriage toPrince Rune of Caberwill which will unite two of the kingdoms (if she does not kill him) the Malstop is weakening--and Nightrender, the only warrior who can save the world, sleeps in her castle, waiting for someone to summon her.

The One True Me and You

Remi K. England
Fanfic author Kay and beauty pageant contestant Teagan learn what it means to be--and to stand up for--yourself when they find love at a small fandom convention.

This Vicious Grace

Emily Thiede
Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa's gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner's magic, not kill every suitor she touches. Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island's only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her. Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante's dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?

We All Fall Down The River City Duology Series, Book 1

Rose Szabo
In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, four young queer people, unaware they have been selected to play in an age-old drama reviving the flow of magic through their world, are brought into each other's orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy. In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city's crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city. Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life, work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other's orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.

2024 Winner

Lamar Giles

The 2024 winning author is Lamar Giles with his book The Getaway, making him the first repeat winner in YAVA history after previously winning the 2022 YAVA Awards for his book Not So Pure and Simple!

Outside of his writing career, Giles is known for being a founding member of a non-profit organization called We Need Diverse Books, which advocates for change within the publishing industry – not only by producing diverse literature with characters that reflect real world marginalized identities and supporting authors from diverse backgrounds through grants and workshops, but also promoting these books, and putting them in the hands of young people. In addition, he is a faculty member within the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University.

Giles’ 2024 selection, The Getaway, is a dystopian post-apocalyptic horror novel set in a future resort escape for the wealthy ruling class. The novel focuses on the lives of 3 black and 1 mixed race teens as they not only navigate elitism and classism, but also systemic racism, misogyny, and questions of autonomy as they face the horrors of the end of civilization and the future of humanity. Kirkus Reviews said of the novel, “Hold tight: You’ll want to stay on this nightmarish roller coaster till the end.”

As one of our teen judges pointed out,

“Besides the thrilling, innovative, plot and impeccable diction, this book offers necessary and insightful reflection on the state of racial and income inequality in our country. It’s a dire tale of the direction we could be heading.”

Another one of our judges stated,

“I appreciate The Getaway’s emphasis on unity, because I think a lot of young people are really angry when they see injustice, and in the process of venting out that anger are too quick to turn on each other and forget one another’s humanity.”

And finally, another teen judge said of the book,

“The main purpose of the book was to show how even the simplest of people can spark a change and create a better world. The characters were beautifully written, and the strength of these characters throughout the book… inspires growth and change in youth today.”

Past Winners


Me (Moth)

Amber McBride
Amber McBride’s 2023 novel Me (Moth) (Feiwel & Friends, 2021) is a novel in verse and McBride's debut novel. It is a story of identity, grief, first love, and “the ways that our memories and our roots steer us through the universe.” It is both heartbreaking and uplifting, emotionally beautiful, and provides the most epic plot twist with an equally satisfying ending. McBride is currently a professor at the University of Virginia. "Originally from everywhere," McBride was born in Heidelberg, Germany and lived in several different states until the age of 18. She "low key practices Hoodoo and high key devours books (150 or so a year keep her well fed). In her spare time she enjoys pretending it is Halloween every day, organizing her crystals, watching K-dramas and accidentally scrolling through TikTok for 3 hours at a time."

Not So Pure and Simple

Lamar Giles
Lamar Giles’ 2020 novel, Not So Pure and Simple, 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.

Orpheus Girl

Brynne Rebele-Henry
In her debut novel, award-winning poet Brynne Rebele-Henry re-imagines the Orpheus myth as a love story between two teenage girls who are sent to conversion therapy after being caught together in an intimate moment. Orpheus Girl is a haunting story of dysfunctional families, trauma, first love, heartbreak, and ultimately, the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance.

The Impossibility of Us

Katy Upperman
Katy Upperman’s book, The Impossibility of Us, is a contemporary novel with a romantic spin. Set in San Francisco during the Afghan War, The Impossibility of Us tells the story of Elise and Mati, two teens from very different backgrounds. Elisa and her mother are grieving the loss of her brother who was killed in the war in Afghanistan. When they move to a new town, Elisa meets Mati, an Afghan teen visiting with his family from overseas. The two unexpectedly fall in love but face the disapproval of Elise’s family. Can their relationship overcome the deep-rooted prejudice that confronts them? Upperman’s novel has been described as “timely, tender, romantic and impressively honest.” Readers will relate to Elisa and Mati’s struggle and the book’s themes of racism will feel very real and relevant.

It Started with Goodbye

Christina June
It Started with Goodbye is a modern day Cinderella story for today’s teens. Confined to her house for the summer after being unfairly implicated in one of her best friend’s ideas gone awry, 16-year-old Tatum launches a graphic design business and falls for a cello-playing client who lives in Ireland.


Lisa Maxwell
From “talented wordsmith” (Publishers Weekly) Lisa Maxwell comes a lush, atmospheric fantasy novel filled with twists and turns about a girl who is kidnapped and brought to an island inhabited by fairies, a roguish ship captain, and bloodthirsty beasts.


Kat Spears
When Jason Marshall's younger sister passes away, he knows he can count on his three best friends and soccer teammates—Mario, Jordie, and Chick—to be there for him. With a grief-crippled mother and a father who's not in the picture, he needs them more than ever. But when Mario starts hanging out with a rough group of friends and Jordie finally lands the girl of his dreams, Jason is left to fend for himself while maintaining a strained relationship with troubled and quiet Chick. Then Jason meets Raine, a girl he thinks is out of his league but who sees him for everything he wants to be, and he finds himself pulled between building a healthy and stable relationship with a girl he might be falling in love with, grieving for his sister, and trying to hold onto the friendships he has always relied on.

Come August, Come Freedom

Gigi Amateau
In a time of post-Revolutionary fervor in Richmond, Virginia, an imposing twenty-four-year-old slave named Gabriel plotted a rebellion involving thousands of African- American freedom seekers armed with refashioned pitchforks and other implements of Gabriel’s blacksmith trade. The revolt would be thwarted by a confluence of fierce weather and human betrayal, but Gabriel retained his dignity to the end. Interwoven with original documents, this poignant, illuminating novel gives a personal face to a remarkable moment in history. This edition includes extensive research notes on the story behind the plot.