What makes “a Positive Approach to Life” in YA Fiction

The Walden Award is remarkable among young adult (YA) fiction awards for focusing on a “positive approach to life.” This article reviews the ten novels that have won the award (2009-2018): The Hate U Give; The Serpent King; All American Boys; Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future; Eleanor & Park; The Fault in Our Stars; Shine; The Last Summer of the Death Warriors; Fire; and My Most Excellent Year.  The novels are analyzed to highlight their “positive approach to life” that made them liable for the award. The present research benefited from both textual analysis and psychoanalysis. Textual analysis renders the prize committee’s criteria into three categories of study: the thematic level, character-portrayal, and plot-development. Psychoanalysis shows how the novels foster a positive attitude in their readers through their positive approach to life, leading to notable attitude changes in the main characters.

Keywords: Walden Award, young adult (YA) novel, prize winners, positive approach, textual analysis, psychoanalysis, attitude change.