AustLit logo
Prize for Young Adult Fiction
Subcategory of Victorian Premier's Literary Awards
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


2021 winner y separately published work icon Metal Fish, Falling Snow Cath Moore , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2020 19549992 2020 single work novel

'Dylan and her adored French mother dream of one day sailing across the ocean to France. Paris, Dylan imagines, is a place where her black skin won’t make her stand out, a place where she might feel she belongs.

'But when she loses her mother in a freak accident, Dylan finds herself on a very different journey: a road trip across outback Australia in the care of her mother’s grieving boyfriend, Pat. As they travel through remote towns further and further from the water that Dylan longs for, she and Pat form an unlikely bond. One that will be broken when he leaves her with the family she has never known.

'Metal Fish, Falling Snow is a warm, funny and highly original portrait of a young girl’s search for identity and her struggle to deal with grief. Through families lost and found, this own-voices story celebrates the resilience of the human heart and our need to know who we truly are.' (Publication summary)

2020 winner y separately published work icon How It Feels to Float Helena Fox , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2019 15644206 2019 single work novel young adult

'Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, who loves her so hard, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was seven. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface–normal okay regular fine.

'But after what happens on the beach–first in the ocean, and then in the sand–the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. Dad disappears and, with him, all comfort. It might be easier, better, sweeter to float all the way away? Or maybe stay a little longer, find her father, bring him back to her. Or maybe–maybe maybe maybe–there’s a third way Biz just can’t see yet.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2019 winner y separately published work icon Catching Teller Crow Ambelin Kwaymullina , Ezekiel Kwaymullina , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2018 14072595 2018 single work novel young adult

'Nothing's been the same for Beth Teller since she died. Her dad, a detective, is the only one who can see and hear her—and he's drowning in grief. But now they have a mystery to solve together. As it unravels, Beth finds a shocking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another. Told in two unforgettable voices, this gripping novel weaves together themes of grief, colonial history, violence, love and family.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2018 winner y separately published work icon Living on Hope Street Demet Divaroren , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2017 10953745 2017 single work novel young adult

'A young adult novel that shines a light on contemporary society. With unforgettable characters, this heartfelt novel explores cross-cultural friendships, difficult family relationships, racism and redemption.

'‘Living on Hope Street is a big-hearted, compassionate work. Divaroren is a ferociously good storyteller and every character breathes life, every character convinces. This book is an absolute joy to read.’ CHRISTOS TSIOLKAS

'We all love someone. We all fear something. Sometimes they live right next door - or even closer.

'Kane will do everything he can to save his mother and his little brother Sam from the violence of his father, even if it means becoming a monster himself.

'Mrs Aslan will protect the boys no matter what - even though her own family is in pieces.

'Ada wants a family she can count on, while she faces new questions about herself.

'Mr Bailey is afraid of the refugees next door, but his worst fear will take another form.

'And Gugulethu is just trying to make a life away from terror.' (Publication summary)

2017 winner y separately published work icon When Michael Met Mina The Lines We Cross Randa Abdel-Fattah , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2016 9625788 2016 single work novel

'A boy. A girl. Two families. One great divide.

When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees - standing on opposite sides. Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre. Michael's parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values. They want to stop the boats. Mina wants to stop the hate. When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael's private school, their lives crash together blindingly. A novel for anyone who wants to fight for love, and against injustice' (Pan Macmillan).

2016 winner y separately published work icon Welcome to Orphancorp Marlee Jane Ward , New South Wales : Seizure , 2015 8889751 2015 single work novella fantasy young adult

'A sharp-edged semi-futuristic riff about a rebellious teenager’s last week at an industrial orphanage.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2015 winner y separately published work icon For the Forest of a Bird Sue Saliba , Melbourne : Penguin , 2015 6911999 2015 single work children's fiction children's

'A novel about love and the things you can and can't change, from the winner of the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for young adult fiction, Sue Saliba.

'Nella closed her hand in the pocket of her dress, and she felt the feather against her fingers. 'I want to tell you something,' she said, and it did not matter that there was no reply. 'I want to tell you that he's coming home. . . and it's going to be like it was before he went away, before everything broke apart.'

'Nella waits for the swallows by the creek each spring. It's a secret vigil she's followed ever since her father left.

'This year she's going to take him with her . . . but can we ever return to the way things were?' (Publication summary)

2015 winner y separately published work icon The Protected Claire Zorn , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2014 7329687 2014 single work novel young adult (taught in 2 units)

'A compulsively readable novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky So Heavy.

'The worst thing that could happen would be for my life to go back to how it was before Katie died.

'Hannah's world has imploded, all thanks to her older sister Katie. Her mum is depressed, her dad's injured and she has to go to compulsory therapy sessions. Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn't afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?

'In a family torn apart by guilt, one girl's struggle to come to terms with years of harassment shows how deep previous scars can run.

'The Protected is an honest and searing portrayal of loss and grief that conveys the repercussions of bullying to the modern-day teenager.' (Publication summary)

2012 winner y separately published work icon The Shadow Girl John Larkin , North Sydney : Woolshed Press , 2011 Z1799254 2011 single work novel young adult thriller

'The shadow girl never imagined she'd live on the streets. After her parents disappear, life with her aunt and uncle takes a sinister turn. Terrified that the authorities will believe her uncle over her, she flees.

'She tricks her way into a new school and pretends to have a loving family. No one knows she sleeps in rail yards, sand dunes and abandoned houses. At school she meets the author she will call on years later. Together they piece together the story of how she survived, who helped her, and the friend she wishes she could have saved.' (From the publisher's website.)

2011 winner y separately published work icon The Three Loves of Persimmon Cassandra Golds , Camberwell : Penguin , 2010 Z1726303 2010 single work novel young adult fantasy 'Persimmon lives a solitary life, pouring her passion into the florist shop she owns in the underground railway station. Her only companion is Rose, a talking cabbage. Intriguing young men come and go but Persimmon has yet to find the love of her life. Several levels beneath Persimmon's shop lives a mouse called Epiphany. Epiphany has a questing mind. She wants to know what lies beyond the dark tunnels of her home. As in all good fables, Persimmon and Epiphany are destined to meet. And when they do, life will never be the same again.' (Trove record)
2010 winner y separately published work icon Raw Blue Kirsty Eagar , Camberwell : Penguin , 2009 Z1603422 2009 single work novel young adult

'Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly café. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing ... and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago at schoolies week.

'And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy? (From the publisher's website.)

2009 winner y separately published work icon Something in the World Called Love Sue Saliba , Camberwell : Penguin , 2008 Z1561033 2008 single work novel young adult

'When Esma moves into 22 Starling Street, a share house, to begin her university life, she knows she's come to the right place. A place to forget the disappointments of her past. A place to become someone new. A place to belong. After all, her housemate Kara - with her perfect room and her perfect life - will show her the way.

As their friendship deepens, Esma believes she would do anything for Kara. But when Kara turns against their other housemate, Simon, Esma is set on a path on which she must decide where her true loyalties lie.' (From publisher's website)

2008 winner y separately published work icon Tomorrow All Will Be Beautiful Brigid Lowry , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2007 Z1508351 2007 selected work short story poetry young adult A rich collection of short stories and poetry, semi-autobiographical, about navigating through life's experiences.
2007 winner y separately published work icon Notes from the Teenage Underground Simmone Howell , Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2006 Z1316999 2006 single work novel young adult

'Taking their anti-social edge one step further, seventeen-year-old Gem and her friends Mira and Lo have decided to go Underground. Their activities will be "extreme", "anti-establishment", "avant-garde" and "debauched".

While Gem makes an underground film and Mira sets about pursuing "boys-without-barcodes" no one knows what it is that Lo – the most subversive of the three – has planned. But in the back of her mind, Gem's worried. She feels the balance of the trio's friendship is always weighted against her. And as the weeks draw closer to Christmas, appearances start to deceive and relationships flounder. For all the promise of the group, Underground seems a dark place to be.

It will take great films, bad poetry and a pantheon of inspirational guides – from Andy Warhol to Germaine Greer – to help Gem work out the true meaning of friendship, where family fits in, and that the best parts of life aren't always underground.' (Source: Publisher's blurb)

2006 winner y separately published work icon Theodora's Gift Ursula Dubosarsky , Camberwell : Viking , 2005 Z1193883 2005 single work children's fiction children's (taught in 4 units) Theodora is fourteen when her father has a mysterious vision. Soon after, he leaves his family and goes to live with his first wife. It is up to Theodora and her half-brother Samuel to bring him back. Meanwhile, Samuel's grandfather is dying, and Theodora begins to see a black cat that could not possibly be real. As present-day events collide with stories from a distant past, the world begins to seem a more complex place, full of uncertainty, great wonder and inspiration. - back cover
2005 winner y separately published work icon So Yesterday Scott Westerfeld , Camberwell : Penguin , 2004 Z1186398 2004 single work novel young adult 'Hunter Braque, a New York City teenager who is paid by corporations to spot what is "cool," combines his analytical skills with girlfriend Jen's creative talents to find a missing person and thwart a conspiracy directed at the heart of consumer culture' (Source: Kinetica).
2004 winner y separately published work icon Black Juice Margo Lanagan , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2004 Z1102783 2004 selected work short story young adult science fiction fantasy horror (taught in 2 units)

'Ten stories that delight, shock, intrigue, amuse and move the reader to tears with their imaginative reach, their dark humour, their subtlety, their humanity and depth of feeling: As part of a public execution, a young boy forlornly helps to sing his sister down. A servant learns about grace and loyalty from a mistress who would rather dance with Gypsies than sit on her throne. A terrifying encounter with a demonic angel gives a young man the strength he needs to break free of his oppressor. On a bleak and dreary afternoon a gleeful shooting spree leads to tragedy for a desperate clown unable to escape his fate.'

'Black Juice offers glimpses into familiar, shadowy worlds that push the boundaries of the spirit and leave the mind haunted with the knowledge that black juice runs through us all.'

2003 winner y separately published work icon Wildlight : A Journey David Metzenthen , Camberwell : Penguin , 2002 Z980483 2002 single work novel young adult historical fiction In this forest, armed men from the new settlement ventured to investigate strage lights and found three fires burning, a child at their centre tethered to a stake. The boy appeared to be white, perhaps three or four years old, unable to speak. He watched the men darting, fearful eyes of a wild animal and at their approach he crouched, snatched a stick from the fire and snarled. So begins Dirk Wildnight's life in the tiny Victorian settlement of Tilmore. Reluctantly he's taken in, only to be treated with suspicion, negelect and cruelty. Then a strange turn of fortune leads him not only towards freedom, but to an understanding of the mystery of his earliest years. (LA)
2002 winner y separately published work icon Njunjul the Sun Meme McDonald , Boori Pryor , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2002 Z947015 2002 single work novel young adult (taught in 2 units) 'A 16-year-old Aboriginal boy leaves his family and home for the big city, and as he struggles to make sense of his experience he realises that he must have the knowledge of his own people and culture in order to know who he is, and to find his direction.' Source: Libraries Australia.
2001 winner y separately published work icon Touch Me James Moloney , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2000 Z403308 2000 single work novel young adult romance 'For Xavier McLachlan, rugby is life. Winning a 1st XV jersey means everything...until he meets Nuala Magee. Has there ever been a girl like her? She's feisty, she's troubled, she's dangerous. What will his mates think? Does he even care? Xavier McLachlan is in love.' - back cover (2007)