A Single Stone cover


Shortlist year: 2016

Shortlist category: Young adult literature

Published by: Walker Books Australia

Every girl dreams of being part of the line—the chosen seven who tunnel deep into the mountain to find the harvest. Jena is the leader of the line—strong, reliable and small; her years of training have seen to that. It is not always easy but it is the way of things. And so a girl must wrap her limbs, lie still, deny herself a second bowl of stew. Or a first. But what happens when one tiny discovery makes Jena question everything she has ever known? What happens when moving a single stone changes everything?

About the author

 Meg McKinlay

Meg McKinlay

Meg McKinlay grew up in Bendigo, Victoria, in a book-loving, TV-and car-free household. On the long and winding path to becoming a children’s writer, she has worked a variety of jobs including as a swim instructor, tour guide, translator and teacher. These days, she lives with her family near the ocean in Fremantle and divides her time between teaching and writing—a balance that swings wildly between chaos and calm.

Judges’ comments

There is something strange and unsettling in this novel. When mountains have collapsed after long generations of mining, survivors evolve a way of life defined by cultish rules and rituals. Central to the way of life are the girls and young women raised in self-sacrifice to burrow deep into mountain tunnels for a rare mineral crucial to village life in winter. Jenna leads the line of seven girls, dedicated to this dangerous task. “Make the harvest, find the light” and “if the rocks allows it” are meditations among the cruelty of their lives. A Single Stone deals in themes of power, the environment and identity in nuanced ways. Girls are raised to shape their bodies through controlled eating, self-sacrifice and submission to the group. And what does the society give back in return? At the heart of Jena’s world there is a secret, and who controls that knowledge controls her life.