Hardie Grant are going to have to find a way to make room for yet another sticker for Biffy James’ debut YA novel, Completely Normal (and Other Lies) because she’s just won the Readings Books’ inaugural Gab Williams Prize!
The Gab Williams Prize seeks to acknowledge the contribution of young adult author and immediate past manager of The Readings Prize, Gabrielle Williams, who passed away early in 2023.
Unlike the other prize winners, which are chosen by panels of Readings booksellers this prize has been chosen by teens themselves, all aged between 14 to 18, and all participants in The Readings Teen Advisory Board. The board read the shortlist for The Readings Young Adult Prize and came together to choose their favourite as the winner.
And this is in fact that second time that Biffy has not won a main YA prize, but one selected by teen readers – having previously also won the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) 2023 Shadow Judging Book of the Year in the Older Readers category for Completely Normal!
Olivia Campbell, chair of the Readings Teen Advisory Board judges had this to say about Biffy’s win: “The Readings Teen Advisory Board is so grateful to have been given the opportunity to read and discuss this wonderful selection of stories. It was so meaningful to us – being able to explore these lives and worlds reflective of our own. It is our genuine pleasure to recognise Biffy James’ debut novel, Completely Normal (and Other Lies), as the winner of The Gab Williams Prize.
James has created a cast of characters who are fully realised and alive. Through them, she explores family, friendship, first love, and grief, with empathy and (what we hope will become a trademark) gentle humour. Made of tears, laughter, and the long draws of life in between, Completely Normal is a true joy to read and reread.
This book embodies teenage mistakes. It is poignant, earnest, and real. We hope this platform will bring it to more young readers; Completely Normal made us feel seen.”
Agent Danielle Binks is particularly moved by this win for Biffy, given that she was a fan and knew Gabrielle Williams. Danielle said; “I just know Gab would have loved you, Biffy. She’d have thought you were a hoot, and I think you would have got along famously. This means a lot, as someone who loved and adored Gabrielle Williams the person and the author.”
Huge congratulations yet again, Biffy!