Patrice Lawrence wins The YA Book Prize with 'Orangeboy'

Photo by Paul Musso

Photo by Paul Musso




 Thursday 1st June: Patrice Lawrence was today announced as the winner of The Bookseller’s YA Book Prize for Orangeboy, published by Hodder Children’s Books.

Orangeboy, a multi-layered debut that is part urban thriller, part moving family drama, part coming-of-age story, was selected by a panel of judges which included award-winning author Melvin Burgess, who praised its fresh and original plotline, its thrilling pace, and its rounded and believable characters.

Lawrence beat stiff competition from nine other authors on the shortlist, called the #YA10, including children’s heavyweights Malorie Blackman and Francesca Simon. The prize received over 100 entries this year.

She was presented with the £2,000 prize by Gemma Cairney, Radio 1 DJ and author, at Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye, as part of the festival’s #HAYYA programme of events.

Melvin Burgess, judge and author, who was last year honoured with a YA Book Prize special achievement award, commented: Orangeboy ticked so many boxes for so many of the judges. It’s a page-turning thriller. The characters and their relationships are truthful, delightful, surprising and strong. It was so refreshing to read something set in an urban black community that will appeal to a diverse UK readership. It deals with family, friendship, sex appeal, loyalty and generally being human. It is so accomplished and we all really feel there is something there for everyone.”

Caroline Carpenter, acting children’s editor for The Bookseller and Chair of the YA Book Prize 2017, commented: “This year the prize was incredibly tough to judge, with 10 strong but incredibly diverse stories on the shortlist, but we found a truly worthy winner in Patrice Lawrence’s Orangeboy. It is a totally gripping and relatable thriller – Patrice does a great job of putting the reader in Marlon’s shoes as she racks up the tension and keeps you turning the pages. The judges were particularly impressed that this is a debut and we are sure that Patrice is a rising star of UKYA with a brilliant career ahead of her.”

The judging panel was chaired by Carpenter, and was comprised of leading industry figures: 

§  Melvin Burgess, author

§  Darren Chetty, academic

§  Jim Dean, book blogger

§  Amelia Douglas, account director at book printer Clays

§  Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival

§  Beth Goodyear, Scottish Book Trust’s schools tour programme manager

§  Jenny Murray, Children’s Books Ireland’s communications manager

§  Chelsey Pippin, commissioning editor for features at Buzzfeed UK

§  Farah Taylor, manager at Alef Bookstores

 Four teenagers from Hereford Sixth Form College were also present in the final judging session.



Not cool enough, not clever enough, not street enough for anyone to notice me. I was the kid people looked straight through.

Not anymore. Not since Mr Orange.

Sixteen-year-old Marlon has made his mum a promise – he’ll never follow his big brother Andre down the wrong path. So far, it’s been easy, but when a date ends in tragedy, Marlon finds himself hunted. They’re after the mysterious Mr Orange, and they’re going to use Marlon to get to him.

Marlon’s out of choices – can he become the person he never wanted to be, to protect everyone he loves?

Orangeboy was also the winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize for Older Readers 2017, as well as being shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Children’s Book Award.


Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian-Trinidadian household in Mid Sussex. She found her way to east London in the '90s and lives there with a partner, a teenager and a cat called Stormageddon. She has been writing for as long as she has been reading. She loves crime fiction, sci-fi and trying to grow things. Her ideal mixtape includes drum 'n' bass, Bruce Springsteen and Studio Ghibli soundtracks. Music can’t help creeping into her books. Follow her at:  @LawrencePatrice