Part of me worries that the Printz Award only nominates edgy young adult fiction, and perhaps bypasses novels that are worthy but are a bit more mainstream. Then again, I don't know what I'm talking about because I don't read enough young adult fiction.
You'll see what I mean right off the bat - completely disillusioned, and obviously heartbroken, young woman trying to make it through high school. Peers, first loves, schoolwork, big social issues, it's all addressed. It seems important to the author to make sure she's smart and "does what's right" for the most part, or else we would not sympathize with her or her situation. Or understand that the moral of the story is that you shoudl be smart and do what's right. I often find YA to be like this - a leetle bit too obvious. But I am not the audience for it, and that's important for me to keep in mind.
There's no question that you do understand her plight, because those adults reading it were all kids, and we remember all kinds of heartbreak (perhaps not quite this dire). In my case, I really understood her plight because he makes her a pizza driver, and I was a pizza driver in my 20s. Everything you're reading about that? Completely spot on.