The National Book Foundation has announced the five finalists for the 2022 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature: Kelly Barnhill for The Ogress and the Orphans (Algonquin); Sonora Reyes for The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray); Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes, and Dawud Anyabwile for Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice (Norton Young Readers); Sabaa Tahir for All My Rage (Razorbill); and Lisa Yee for Maizy Chen’s Last Chance (Random House). All five of this year’s finalists are NBA first-timers. They were drawn from a longlist that was announced on September 14.
The annual National Book Awards Finalists Reading, in which all the finalists will read from their work, will be hosted by the New School in-person and online on the evening of November 15; this event will be free and open to the public. The annual National Book Awards Teen Press Conference, hosted by Rita Williams-Garcia, will take place that morning.
The winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 16, at the NBA’s invitation-only 73rd awards ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City; the awards will also be broadcast live.
Read on for PW’s reviews of the books by all five finalists.
The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill
“Employing a benevolent, omniscient narrator... and a slowly unfurling, deliberately paced telling, Newbery Medalist Barnhill incorporates ancient stories, crow linguistics, and a history of dragonkind into an ambitious, fantastical sociopolitical allegory that asks keen questions about the nature of time, the import of community care, and what makes a neighbor.” The book received a starred review from PW.
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
“Reyes’s hopeful debut excels in its honest depiction of family dynamics, highlighting Yami’s sense of responsibility for Cesar and her loving but tense relationship with her mother. As the narrative vulnerably tackles difficult subjects such as intolerant religious institutions and living with mental illness, Yami’s sardonic voice adds levity and heart.”
Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes, illus. by Dawud Anyabwile
“With collaborators Barnes and Anyabwile, Smith details his childhood leading up to his historic Olympic protest—and its aftermath—in this compelling graphic memoir… Anyabwile’s grayscale art features kinetically illustrated athletic competition, tense racial dynamics, and a large, intricately detailed Black family. Smith’s timely story, whose nonlinear timeline highlights both prominent events during the civil rights movement and Smith’s interpersonal struggles, is a powerful celebration of resistance.” The book received a starred review from PW.
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
“Tahir explores heavy themes, including grief, racism, financial need, trauma, and substance abuse, in a far-reaching novel that follows a working-class Pakistani American family across two generations…. this powerful, viscerally told novel unfolds across the past and present, painting solidly multidimensional characters alongside vividly wrought connections and pressure.” The book received a starred review from PW.
Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee
“In this fast-paced narrative, Chinese American only child Maizy Chen travels with her food stylist single mother from Los Angeles to her mom’s hometown of Last Chance, Minn., to care for Maizy’s ailing grandfather. Yee’s full house of endearing characters and assured voice prevail in a humorous, sincere story emphasizing the taut thread between past and present, and the imperative to aid others.”