Sagas of a troubled girl and a Kennedy daughter win Massachusetts Book Awards

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William Morrow

The Massachusetts Center for the Book has announced the winners of this year's Massachusetts Book Awards, bestowed annually upon five of the commonwealth's finest writers for work published the previous year.

"It's just a testament to what we all know, which is that we live in an incredibly rich literary culture," said Sharon Shaloo, executive director of the Massachusetts Center for the Book. "There are writers all over the Commonwealth that are enriching our lives, and it's great to celebrate them."

Stoughton resident Paul Tremblay won the fiction prize for "A Head Full of Ghosts," which depicts a troubled Beverly family that becomes the focus of reality TV producers when one of the daughters begins to exhibit bizarre behavior that may be schizophrenia — or demonic possession. Fiction honorees include Jabari Asim ("Only the Strong"), Matthew Neill Null ("Honey From the Lion"), and B.A. Shapiro ("The Muralist").


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The nonfiction prize was awarded to Kate Clifford Larson of Winchester for her book "Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter." The work centers on Rosemary Kennedy, daughter of Joe and Rose, a charming yet difficult woman who underwent a lobotomy at 23 with tragic consequences and was kept out of the spotlight by her glamorous and ambitious family. Nonfiction honorees include Jay Atkinson ("Massacre on the Merrimack: Hannah Duston's Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America"), Joseph J. Ellis ("The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789"), and David McCullough ("The Wright Brothers").

Framingham's Alan Feldman received the poetry award for "Immortality," a collection that reflect bits of the human experience: identity, relationships, and the concept of meaning itself. Poetry honorees include Moira Linehan ("Incarnate Grace"), Lawrence Raab ("Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts"), David R. Surette ("Stable"), and Gail Thomas ("Waving Back").

The top prize for young adult literature went to Ali Benjamin of Williamstown. "The Thing About Jellyfish," which was a National Book Award finalist, follows the touching journey of a girl who searches for the reason behind her best friend's drowning. Young adult honorees include Holly Black ("The Darkest Part of the Forest"), M.T. Anderson ("Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad"), and Marika McCoola ("Baba Yaga's Assistant").


Candlewick Press

Holyoke's Leslea Newman won the picture books award for "Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed," which tells the story of a man and a creative cat who make music together. Picture book honorees include Grace Lin ("Ling & Ting Together in All Weather"), Matt Tavares ("Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It From the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues"), and Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple ("You Nest Here With Me").

Sonia Rao can be reached at sonia.rao@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @misssoniarao.