Promise Boys: Nick Brooks's 2023 BGHB Fiction and Poetry Honor Speech

Hey, everyone. Nick Brooks here, sitting before you today with profound gratitude and immense joy as the recipient of this Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Award. This moment is truly inspiring for me, and I am deeply honored to be recognized in this way. And I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the Boston Globe, the Horn Book, and the esteemed judges, Erica Marks, Martha V. ­Parravano, and Roger Sutton, who made this moment possible.

Knowing Promise Boys has resonated with the book community and readers fills my heart because connecting with young people, and saying something important, was always the mission. Always the goal. There were three things on my mind when I started writing this book.

The first was the commitment I made years ago to uplift the voices of the kids I taught in my hometown of Washington, DC. This story needed to reflect their lived experiences in a way that allowed them to see themselves on the page authentically.

The second was to depict a different side of my hometown that we don’t typically see. A side without politicians and expensive suits. A side with the people and the heart of the city.

And the third was being very intentional about sparking conversations around the ways our schools, ­particularly in low-income ­communities, often do more harm to our kids than good.

Knowing that all these things have come across in Promise Boys fills me with gratitude, and I couldn’t have wished for a better outcome.

[Read Horn Book reviews of the 2023 BGHB Fiction and Poetry winners.]

To the exceptional panel of judges, Erica, Martha, and Roger, your commitment to the world of literature, your discerning taste, and your dedication to nurturing a love of books in readers of all ages is truly commendable. I am humbled that you found my work worthy of this recognition.

And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank the young readers who have embraced my book. Writing for you, to you, inspiring your imaginations, and sparking your curiosity are the most rewarding parts of being an author.

Thank you all for sharing in this incredible journey with me. I look forward to a future filled with more stories that will touch the hearts of readers everywhere. So from the bottom of my heart, again, this is much appreciated. Much love, peace.

From the January/February 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For more on the 2023 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, click on the tag BGHB23. Read more from The Horn Book by and about Nick Brooks.

Nick Brooks

Nick Brooks received a 2023 Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Award for Fiction and Poetry for Promise Boys (Holt).

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