2022 Alexandria Award Winner: Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Scythe, written by Neal Shusterman, is the story of a world with no hunger, disease, war or misery. Having conquered death, humanity turns to scythes as the only means to keep the size of the population under control. Two teenagers, Citra and Rowan, have been chosen as scythe apprentices, a role neither wants.
“Scythe poses deep philosophical, moral and ethical questions that make it an exciting and different pick for the Alexandria Award,” said Michael Macaluso, the founder of the award and an assistant teaching professor in the Center for Literacy Education and the Alliance for Catholic Education’s Teaching Fellows program. “It depicts a society where humanity has eradicated poverty, disease, inequality and even death through advanced technology, medicine and artificial intelligence. But that brings consequences that will compel readers to examine what makes life worth living. The award committee felt that the literary quality of the book along with its explicit contemporary connections and implicit commentaries on the value and right to life made it a clear standout this year.”
The Alexandria Award recognizes a middle grade or young adult novel written within the past 5 years that advances Gospel values and tenets of Catholic Social Teaching while portraying adolescents who espouse St. Catherine of Alexandria’s brave and tenacious character. The award recognizes the powerful value literature can have in classrooms across the country, particularly Catholic middle and high school classrooms, for inspiring belief and a virtuous life and addressing injustices in the world.
The Alexandria Award is named in honor of Saint Catherine, an adolescent Christian who used her position and education to skillfully defend and promote her faith while standing up against injustice, during a vibrant but volatile time of ancient history. The award recognizes her youth, her enthusiasm for education, and her home – famed location of the great library – as an early site of learning, culture, and literature.
Clinton Carlson, Associate Professor of Visual Communication Design at the University of Notre Dame, designed the Alexandria Award medal.
January 19, 2023