You Won’t Walk Alone (Et kävele yksin) by Juuli Niemi was today 24th November announced as the winner of the 2016 Finlandia Award for the Best Children’s and YA Book 2016. The novel is published by WSOY. Celebrating the finest Finnish titles in three categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s/YA), the Finlandia Award is the most prestigious literary prize in Finland and the winner of each category receives a prize of EUR30 000.
Juuli Niemi (b.1981) is a Finnish author and has previously written poetry and film screenplays. You Won’t Walk Alone is her first novel.
You Won’t Walk Alone is a YA novel that follows the story of Egzon and Ada, two 15-year-olds on the cusp of adulthood. Niemi’s talent is apparent in capturing the moment of youth with her expressive and poetic style and flowing storyline. The reader walks with Egzon and Ada, the two 15-year-olds whose backgrounds couldn’t be more different, as they meet, fall in love, and experience their first everything – through the winter towards the spring. Their first love means everything and changes everything, but it is also in danger of falling apart, and of breaking them in the process. Ultimately we do walk with the two towards the end of their relationship – and towards the beginning of the rest of their lives.
The 2016 jury commented:
“Even a grown up will remember that feeling of youth upon reading this ambitious novel by Juuli Niemi. That overpowering feeling of first love. The difficulty in getting to know someone, of understanding them and of being understood in return – even the difficulty of understanding the things we do ourselves. The author’s poetic voice transports us into the mindset of youth, straight into the crash landing on the runway of adulthood. There is the simultaneous presence of the age-old restricting roles dealt at school yards, the childhood and family that must be left behind – however painful that may be – and the life of our own that springs from within, and the dreams we build.”
2016 is also the first year that a public vote was organized to select the Popular Vote Finlandia winner. This honor was bestowed upon Seita Vuorela’s beautiful and touching YA novel SNOW (Lumi, WSOY 2016).