I promote the Alex Award winners each year as summer reading suggestions to my 11th and 12th grade students. I usually read 5 of the ten winners, and I end up reading books I never would have picked up for myself. Last year my favorites were American Shaolin and Night Birds.
So far I have only read 2 of this year's winners. Actually I read one and a half. I started reading Sharp Teeth, and I can understand why people like it (my husband loved it), but it was just too violent for me. Usually I enjoy reading books set in Los Angeles, but in this case I didn't really connect with the book. But still I gave it to one of my students who is a voracious reader, thinking he may enjoy it. I see the appeal of the book - I just didn't get into it.
City of Thieves by David Benoff is another story entirely. I wasn't excited to read it (not another book about Nazis!), but I couldn't put it down! My husband reads a bunch of the books I bring home, so I have been handing him the Alex Award winners. He is currently devouring a third, which I haven't yet read. He read City of Thieves in one day. He was traveling to and from San Jose on business and the book kept his attention throughout his many hours at the airport. This exciting page-turner starts quickly, and although there is violence, there is also humor.
Smallish and Jewish Lev finds himself on an improbable mission with Kolya, a strong, gregarious soldier accused of leaving his unit during the winter siege on Leningrad. If the two can find a dozen eggs and deliver them to a powerful colonel, their lives will be spared. In their long journey to find the elusive chickens or eggs, they encounter horrors of poverty and hunger, and the sincerity and loyalty of friendship. And along the way, they find out what it means to become men.
Do you have a favorite Alex Award winner? Which one should I read next?