27 May 2021 Share
The 2021 Trinity Schools Book Award has been awarded to Canadian author Susin Nielsen for her novel No Fixed Address at a virtual ceremony hosted by Ibstock Place School (IPS) in South West London.
Chosen by the pupils at 18 participating schools from a shortlist of seven titles on the theme ‘Only Human’, the winning title unusually starts in a police station and is narrated by teenager Felix who, forced to live in a camper van with his mum, is one of the many ‘hidden homeless’ in Vancouver.
Felix’s story vividly brings to life the stark realities of the nomadic existence from a teenager’s perspective. There are many bleak scenes that combine to create a powerful portrait of homelessness, such as when Felix is caught stealing food or when the temperature drops and, without any heating, he becomes ill.
However, the story is told with a light touch; Felix’s enduring sense of humour and the hopeful ending make No Fixed Address a gentle introduction to challenging issues including mental health, domestic violence and poverty.
“I am delighted that readers connected with Felix,” said Susin Nielsen. “I got the idea for the book when I started to notice a lot more people living out of motorhomes and camper vans as a result of Vancouver’s housing crisis. I started thinking about what it would be like to live out of a van all the time.”
The Trinity Schools Book Award not only encourages young people to read and discuss good quality contemporary fiction, but also asks them to review and, uniquely, to respond creatively to the shortlisted books.
The creative responses received this year, which include a ‘choose your own adventure’ style computer game, contemporary dance, showstopper cakes, mini films and 3D models, are particularly impressive given the constraints imposed by the pandemic.
Helen Cleaves, Librarian at IPS said: “In a year when our relationship with home has been forced to a new level it is perhaps not surprising that pupils were particularly moved by the story of a teenager without one. It is heartening to see so many young people engaging with diverse characters and, hopefully, developing empathy for those with different lived experiences from their own. Surely this is the secret superpower of an unforgettable story and a source of hope for the future.”
The full shortlist was:
The Island at the End of Everything – Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Chicken House)
High-Rise Mystery – Sharna Jackson (Knights Of)
Nowhere on Earth – Nick Lake (Hodder Children’s)
No Fixed Address – Susin Nielsen (Andersen Press)
Inkling – Kenneth Oppel (Walker)
Now or Never – Bali Rai (Scholastic Children’s)
The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle – Victoria Williamson (Kelpies)
For more information, visit www.tsba.edublogs.org