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I Am Out with Lanterns

2019 - Shortlisted


Judges' comments

This young adult novel is a complex, layered tale exploring friendships, love, identity and the power of art. Year Ten starts quickly for best friends and neighbours Wren and Milo— for them, along with Hari, Juliet, Ben and Adie, life becomes complicated. The title of Emily Gale’s adult novel is inspired by an Emily Dickinson quotation, ‘I am out with lanterns, looking for myself’. This enigmatic title sets the focus for this work and highlights that the narrative is about young characters searching for self-awareness.

The strength of this novel is its authenticity and the author’s ability to juggle multiple voices. The tale is narrated by six teens who reflect diverse voices in a broader community. By novel’s end, we see that lives are connected and witness that the threads of our lives intertwine with many in our extended communities. The narrative offers light by novel’s end, with humour and warmth throughout. Ultimately, I Am Out with Lanterns is fresh and engaging as it plays with the familiar yet offers new insights for both teen readers and older readers.