As usual, I am in love with all the finalists for the 2020-21 COVID rid year. As usual, everytime I read one of the final novels I was sure this was the winner. As usual, there was one that literally made me hold my breath as I turned the pages. From the moment I met Adele walking down the bus aisle I was set back in the small rural town I grew up in. Her story brought up memories of watching, and experiencing, the depth of cruelty that a handful of vicious girls from my hometown used when they felt so inclined. And as Lottie showed up in the same bedroom, I again felt transported to their small school in the middle of dry grasslands. Then Jayne Eyre showed up and my decision was sealed. When the Ground is Hard hit me over the head with a ferocity that kept me reading during COVID exhaustion.
fighting words was such a close runner up. This novel reminded me of all the teens I have had the pleasure of teaching, and watching their battles over trauma. I bought a copy of this novel and gave it to one of my students who's life is mirrored in this novel. The realistic portrayal of resislence makes fighting words a novel I will use in my classroom book talks.
Finally, Clap When You Land provided more female characters that were strong and endearing. Thanks Dia for pointing out this victory for female heroines. I agree with some other Smackers that stated Clap When You Land fell between fighting words and When the Ground is Hard.
My vote is for When The Ground is Hard.