The Gateway Award recognizes the top books that appeal to high school students in Missouri. Award recipients are chosen from 15 books that have been written in the past year. The LMC librarians send out emails with the books and information about the award and prominently display the books in the library to encourage students to read them. From there, students spend the year reading books. In the spring, any person who has read three or more of the books plays a role in deciding what book will receive the Gateway Award.
LHS librarians Chris Anderson and Lori Reidel emphasized how good the Gateway nominees truly are.
“After they’ve gone through the whole process of being nominated and everything and the reader selectors, it’s guaranteed to be 15 fantastic books,” Anderson said. “Plus I think it’s nice because they end up coming from a range of different genres, there’s something there for everyone.”
The first most popular book among 42% of LHS students was The Hate U Give. and the second was Nyxia, with nearly 16% of students preferring it, according to a poll sent out by The Bell.
The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give is a powerful realistic fiction story about the effect of police violence on one girl, Star’s, life. The story begins with her best friend being shot by the police and then begins exploring the ways Star tries to find justice for her friend. This message is especially meaningful to the black community, a group of people affected by the issue of police violence in real life.
“It raises a conversation about why police violence is wrong and it gets you to feel for the characters that are going through it,” senior Isabelle Bates said. “Some people might say that it’s not a big deal, but this book shows that it really is and that they can connect to the people that are being harmed by it.”
The political message was a critical element of the book and was especially meaningful to people affected by the issue in real life.
“It’s a modern thing that’s happening in our world, especially for the black community,” freshman Jaliyah Conway said. “It was something to relate to.”
Another element of the book students enjoyed was the writing style and the emotion it invoked.
“I enjoyed the book because it was a very fast-paced book. You didn’t want to put it down because it left you at cliffhangers and it had a ton of emotion,” freshman Abby Steelman said. “One of the best things about the book is the way the characters are described through the main character’s mind. It’s so intense that you feel for the characters.”
A combination of the meaningful message and the writing style makes The Hate U Give the favorite Gateway among students.
Nyxia was a popular choice among students due to how dynamic and action-packed it was. It is a science fiction novel, a very different genre and writing style than The Hate U Give. It was still one of the student favorites from the nominee list, showing that there truly is a nominee for everyone.
The plot of the book focused on a substance called Nyxia and followed a group of teenagers selected to train and compete for a spot to work and mine the substance on another planet. Along the way, there are many twists and turns that added to how dynamic and interesting the book is.
“I think the best thing about the book is seeing how the characters grow and develop throughout the story,” freshman Kennedy Dressaeler said. “I really enjoyed the action and the details that were used in the book.”
The details were a large part of why students enjoyed the book so much and allowed them to truly relate to and experience the book in a whole new way.
Freshman Liberty Dilbeck enjoyed seeing the characters grow and the plot thicken as the book continued.
“They were trying to learn how to use Nyxia, which is the substance in the book. Babel, the lead company, kept tricking the kids and making them do more than they needed to,” Dilbeck said.
Goodbye Days falls in more of the emotional, realistic fiction side of the nominee list. It begins with three of the main character’s best friends getting in a car crash and passing away while coming to pick him up, and walks alongside the main character in his journey to say goodbye and have ‘goodbye days’ for all of his friends.
Freshman Chloe Morgan enjoyed how, despite being sad, the book allowed her to develop alongside the characters.
“Even though it was a really sad story, it had such a good message with it,” Morgan said. “You start in the beginning at the main character’s lowest point in life, and you see him grow throughout the story and slowly recover. It has a really positive message.”
Eliza and her Monsters
Another favorite book among students is Eliza and Her Monsters, a realistic fiction book about a girl, Eliza, who creates an anonymous webcomic. The story follows her struggle with remaining anonymous even when becoming close to one new student, Wallace.
Sophomore Elle Evans enjoyed the book because of many different things, one of those being the actual design of the book itself.
“One of my favorite things about it is how there are text pictures and you can see text messages and pictures of the forum she runs for the comic,” Evans said. “Also the drawings she has.”
As far as the story goes, Evans noticed the emphasis placed on both the main character’s real-world and her virtual world.
Invictus, a science fiction novel focusing primarily on time travel, appealed to students with its futuristic themes and constant plot twists. The main character, Far, takes a job as a part of a time-traveling crew to recover valuable artifacts. On one such heist, the crew discovers that history might not be as stable as they thought.
Freshman Liberty Dilbeck especially enjoyed the balance the author created by mixing serious elements with lighter ones.
“Invictus was good because there were heavier parts of the book but they still kept it pretty funny,” Dilbeck said. “The worst thing about Invictus is that it didn’t end in the way you expect.”