By The Association for Mormon Letters

The AML Awards for 2019 were presented during an online award ceremony on May 2nd, 2020, following the cancellation of the 2020 AML Conference due to the COVID19 pandemic. For a full list of honored works, see http://associationmormonletters.org/blog/2020/05/2019-aml-award-winners/

Irreversible Things

Lisa Van Orman Hadley

$18.00

Special Award in Literature: "Lisa Van Orman Hadley wrote a pearl of a fictionalized memoir that doesn’t fit into genres neatly. Irreversible Things is part experimental fiction, part bildungsroman, and discusses a multitude of “irreversible things”: death, growing up, moving, and missing out on Halloween because her mom won’t let her trick-or-treat on a Sunday. Handley’s sense of humor enrich her imaginative descriptions–one character anticipates returning to Utah and tells of slices of bread “as thick as the Bible.” In another section, you the reader can choose what to do with the wig you discover in your grandmother’s room. As the protagonist ages, she encounters obstacles more typical of adults–infertility and her father’s dementia among them. Happily, her father still remembers how to make a perfect Reuben sandwich with her. The writing is accessible and literary, experimental and familiar."

Words on Fire

Jennifer A. Nielsen

$17.99 $16.55

Middle Grade Novel of the Year: "12 year-old Audra knew how to blend in and avoid being noticed, but nothing prepared her for the night Cossack soldiers showed up on her doorstep to capture her parents and burn her home. Left on her own with instructions from her mother to deliver a mysterious package, Audra must start on a journey filled with unthinkable risks that will lead her to discover the power of words and the strength that can be gathered from uniting in the fight for freedom from an oppressor. Nielsen draws readers into a pocket of Lithuanian history many may be unfamiliar with as they follow Audra’s life as a Lithuanian book smuggler. This is the story of how a small spark of courage becomes a flame to be reckoned with."

Homespun and Angel Feathers

Darlene Young

$11.95 $10.99

Poetry Collection of the Year: "Homespun and Angel Feathers quietly sits among its peers with less flash or surface difficulty, yet it more directly, consistently, and deeply engages with themes and paradoxes of Latter-day Saint life—all while maintaining a surface friendly to casual readers who simply want a spot of pleasure from beautiful language, easily understood. That she manages both these tasks with consistent wit and true feeling places this collection among not just the best of 2019, but among the greatest works in our literature generally. We only hope that her first collection, like Frost’s before her, augurs decades of important, accessible, challenging work to follow."

Lovely War

Julie Berry

$11.99 $11.03

Young Adult Novel of the Year: "Written as a multi-layered frame narrative, Julie Berry’s Lovely War presents the love stories of two couples—Hazel and James, Colette and Aubrey—caught in the grips of World War I. Their captivating romances intensify simultaneously with the tragedies and horrors they experience in the war, tugging readers’ heartstrings in unexpected and poignant ways throughout the novel. Creatively blending romance, war, and Greek mythology, Berry’s novel also speaks to audiences dealing with racism, sexism, heartbreak, or fading hopes. Readers young and old will be enchanted, shattered, and renewed as they glimpse the collision of love and war in this book."

Representing Rural Women

$114.00

Award for Criticism: "Amy Easton-Flake’s 'Poetic Representations of Mormon Women in Late Nineteenth-Century Frontier America' accomplishes what the best criticism sets out to do: elevates the texts it engages with by illuminating new ideas and possibilities contained within it. Her essay, published in Representing Rural Women, is a deep, thoughtful engagement with a broad swath of poems from the Woman’s Exponent. Easton-Flake demonstrates her familiarity with the poetry in weaving a narrative that gives insight into the day-to-day lives of these Mormon women by drawing on the common themes of the poetry. The essay engages with the text of the poems as they are, finding meaning in what they say as a collective expression of values, while linking the text and themes to related historical contexts. Easton-Flake covers a lot of ground and demonstrates the richness that awaits others in giving time and effort to the poetic work of Mormon women."