By Kacie Peterson

On the book front, there has been exciting news for some of Portland, Oregon’s best writers! The Oregon Book Awards were held this week on the night of Monday, April 8. The awards are a program held annually by Literary Arts, and this year marked their twenty-sixth anniversary. Many of Oregon’s finest walked away with prizes no one could sniff at.

The Awards Ceremony was held at Gerding Theater right here in Portland, and winners  will be on the road, participating in literary events and touring throughout the state, getting in touch with fans through a myriad of venues. The highlight of the evening was the awarding of the Leslie Bradshaw Award for Young Adult Literature, which went to Ooligan Press author Ruth Tenzer Feldman for her outstanding novel, Blue Thread. The book tells the story of a young woman named Miriam, who becomes embroiled in both the Women’s Suffrage Movement and a time-traveling encounter with the strong women from her Jewish heritage. The work’s exploration of women’s rights through the ages make it a deserving winner. Look for a companion novel, The Ninth Day, this Fall from Ooligan Press.

There were many other deserving winners at this year’s ceremony. Portland author Storm Large won the Sarah Winnemucca Award for Creative Nonfiction for her memoir, Crazy Enough. This was a work documents her struggles with her mother’s mental illness.

The Reader’s Choice Award was given to Cheryl Strayed of Portland for her book Wild. This book is a powerful memoir relating her inner fight to reclaim her life after experiencing the  loss of her mother and the disintegration of her marriage. This book documents her hike of the Pacific Crest Trail that stretches from California to Washington State. It is no wonder that it won the Readers Choice Award; it is a book filled with life’s troubles that many can relate to, and shows how one woman overcame her personal battles and was able to move forward.

Allen Say also, of Portland, was awarded this year’s Eloise Jarvis McGraw Children’s Literature Award for his book Drawing From Memory. This book also has elements of memoir, chronicling Say’s life growing up in Japan during World War II, and learning from his mentor Noro Shinpei, the famous Japanese cartoonist. It tells how Say grew into his role as the notorious artist he is today. This book is sure to inspire young and motivated artists looking to find their niche in the world. It features gorgeous watercolors and photographs.

Kent Hartman of Portland was awarded the Frances Fuller Award for General Nonfiction for his book The Wrecking Crew. This book documents the success of pop musicians of the 1960s and 1970s. Hartman gives the reader an inside look at what really happened to sky rocket the careers of legends such as Simon and Garfunkel and The Beach Boys. It tells the story of the musicians that helped to bring the stars of pop into the spotlight.

All of these award-winning books are must-reads, and they were chosen because they inspire their readers to chase their dreams, conquer hardships, and imagine the world as a different, more wonderful place. I hope all of you are as excited as I am to sit back, relax, and dig in to these compelling and moving stories of 2013.

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