Southern Book Prize Winner

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

2021 Southern Book Prize Winner!

Carter Sickels has written a gorgeous and heartbreaking book. Brian comes home to rural Ohio after contracting AIDS in New York. As he searches for something like peace we also watch his family and their complicated love for not only him but each other. I absolutely loved this, it was tender and humane, and a glimpse of a shamefully almost-forgotten time in American history. I haven’t stopped thinking about Brian since I finished the novel, and I can tell I won’t stop thinking of him for a long time.

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels (List Price: $26.00, Hub City Press, 9781938235627, May 2020)

Reviewed by Chelsea Bauer, Union Ave Books in Knoxville, Tennessee

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James (Illus.)

A 2021 Southern Book Prize Winner!

I just cannot stop talking about this book. And I am dead-serious when I claim I am on a mission to get this in the hands of EVERYONE. I Am Every Good Thing is a book that encourages readers to celebrate everything that makes them the person they are. Kids learn they can be a leader, an explorer, the life of the party, and an undisputed champion. They also learn it’s okay to make mistakes, to get back up when they fall down, and to be a shoulder to cry on when needed. It is also story that celebrates joy – specifically Black joy. We need more stories that feature Black children being celebrated and feeling joyful. This affirming book will leave kids (and adults) feeling like they can achieve anything. . And the illustrations are gallery worthy creations on every single page. A beautiful message with stunning images that help all children remember how special and truly loved they are.

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James (Illus.) (List Price: $17.99, Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780525518778, September 2020)

Reviewed by Ashley Bryan, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

2021 Southern Book Prize Winner!

This beautiful, elegaic novel gives us a family of voices over the course of a last homecoming to rural Ohio for Brian, dying of AIDS at the height of the 1980s epidemic. Told with empathy and heart, as well as a pitch-perfect sense of time and place, The Prettiest Star is a deeply affecting story about what it means to understand each other and where we come from, even when our lives have taken us light years away.

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels (List Price: $26.00, Hub City Press, 9781938235627, May 2020)

Reviewed by Ashley Warlick, M. Judson booksellers and storytellers in Greenville, South Carolina

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James (Illus.)

A 2021 Southern Book Prize Winner!

I AM EVERY GOOD THING written by Derrick Barnes with illustrations by Gordon C. James is a beautiful book that celebrates Black Boy Magic and it is spectacular. It is a celebration of all that Black boys are and can become. Highly recommend.

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James (Illus.) (List Price: $17.99, Nancy Paulsen Books, 9780525518778, September 2020)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey

2021 Southern Book Prize Winner!

Incredible. Stunning. Poetic. Shattering. Frightening. Beautiful. I cannot imagine how painful it must have been for Natasha Trethewey to tell this complicated story.

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey (List Price: $27.99, Ecco, 9780062248572, July 2020)

Reviewed by Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey

2021 Southern Book Prize Winner!

Heartfelt and vulnerable memoir of a daughter searching for meaning in her mother’s life that was cut too short. Trethewey is looking for closure and trying to piece together her memories as she looks back through the years at a difficult and transient childhood, at abuse and the many ways it can manifest itself, and trying to heal. It’s a beautiful story of love.

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey (List Price: $27.99, Ecco, 9780062248572, July 2020)

Reviewed by Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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