Books·The First Page

My Choice by Amelia Man

My Choice by Amelia Man is a finalist for The First Page student writing challenge.

2023 finalist: Grades 7 to 9 category

A portrait of a teenage girl with black hair and glasses smiling at the camera.
Amelia Man is a finalist for the 2023 First Page Student Writing Challenge in the Grades 7 to 9 category. (Submitted by Amelia Man)

My Choice by Amelia Man is one of 11 stories shortlisted for The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 7 to 9 category for 2023.

Students across Canada wrote the first page of a novel set 150 years in the future, imagining how a current-day trend or issue has played out. More than 1,200 students submitted their stories.

The shortlist was selected by a team of writers across Canada. The winners will be selected by bestselling YA writer Courtney Summers and be announced on May 31.

Man, 14, a student at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School in Vancouver, writes about technology and climate change.


Jolting awake, I blinked rapidly, sighing when I realized I was back in 2173. I was partially asleep, yet I could tell the sudden sound that woke me up was a gunshot — humans' way of trying to rebel against the technology taking over the world and their handling of the severe, pressing problem of climate change. This was a common occurrence, my few precious hours of sleep cut short by the violent antics of others.

In the remarkably realistic dream that I had been immersed in just a few seconds ago, I had experienced life in 2023, where society was extremely… primordial. That world seemed virgin compared to the one I was living in, their technology so elementary, their air so natural, their knowledge so limited. I had stayed up until midnight, reading lengthy books detailing the past — which explained the setting of my dream.

I got out of my cot slowly, exceedingly lucky to have a moment of peace in the crowded dormitory of my choosing school. Checking for my evacuation bag, I felt ready for the traipse to the underground bunkers that I knew like the back of my hand and felt like a second home — although the last time I had used it was yesterday, so I knew it was packed. The essential supply of water, protein bars, reading material and a pillow was my lifeline, a beacon of light in the musty, dim fortress. The evacuation alarms rang haphazardly, though most of the time they were false, just a loud, pre-emptive cacophony caused by the press of an overused button.

Gazing out the window, I could see plumes of smoke rising, filling the air as if to signal their presence. My dream had seemed so simple. Life seemed easy, oblivious, worry-free. In 2173, there was technology, modern time's contemptuous dictators, and climate change, the main factor of death nowadays — killing hundreds weekly and incapacitating thousands more.

As a cyborg, I had a choice: join the robots to conquer Planet Earth or unite with the humans in their fight to take back what had been theirs. It had been 15 years since my creation date, and today was the day of my choosing. This was the most important decision of my whole life; it would determine my future, my legacy and everything in between. This was my choice to make.

About The First Page student writing challenge

A cartoon astronaut with a laser sword bursting out of a book and flying through space with her cat.
The First Page student writing challenge asks students in Grades 7 to 12 to write the first page of a novel from 150 years in the future. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2173. They wrote the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical today and set the scene for how it's all playing out in a century and a half.

Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by bestselling author Courtney Summers. 

Summers has won numerous awards, including the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult literature, the 2019 Odyssey Award and the 2020 Forest of Reading White Pine Award. Her 2021 book The Project won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Young Adult novel.

The shortlist was selected by a team of writers across Canada:

The winner will be announced on CBC Books on May 31, 2023.

Both winners will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which sends fresh boxes of books to young readers across Canada on a monthly basis. In addition, each of the winners' schools will receive 50 free YA books.

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