YA Recommends–Historical Fiction

Published August 1, 2011 by caitlinnicoll

With all the hoopla surrounding a recent WSJ article which Shall Not Be Named, I noticed there are a lot of adult readers who, for various reasons have avoided/shied away from YA. This is the fourth in a series of posts where I recommend “gateway” novels– novels that will help  ease reluctant adult readers into the Behemoth known as the YA world.

This is post 4, and up this week are my historical fiction selections. I tried to mix it up between time periods, continents, and male/female POVs. Although it is still mostly female. There seems to be an overabundance of female POVs in YA.

All synopses taken from Goodreads.

1. The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

Nine-year-old Liesel lives with her foster family on Himmel Street during the dark days of the Third Reich. Her Communist parents have been transported to a concentration camp, and during the funeral for her brother, she manages to steal a macabre book: it is, in fact, a gravediggers’ instruction manual. This is the first of many books which will pass through her hands as the carnage of the Second World War begins to hungrily claim lives. Both Liesel and her fellow inhabitants of Himmel Street will find themselves changed by both words on the printed page and the horrendous events happening around them.

2. Bright Young Things by Anna Godberson

he year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties. Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York’s glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star… Cordelia is searching for the father she’s never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It’s a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will. The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia’s brother, Charlie. But Astrid’s perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets. Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls’ fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

3.  The Pale Assassin by Patricia Elliot

Spoiled, beautiful fourteen-year-old Eugénie de Boncoeur is accustomed to outrageous privilege. The French Revolution may rage around her, but Eugénie’s luxurious lifestyle is only improved by visits from her brother, Armand, especially doting since the two were orphaned. What Eugénie doesn’t know is that their guardian has promised her in marriage to the wealthy, vengeful Le Fantome, a revolutionary nursing a secret grudge against her family. As the Revolution becomes increasingly violent, Eugénie is shipped off to convent school. Finally, there is no place in France that is safe for her. Eugénie dusts off her lightly used brains and rises to the challenge of survival; and soon she is in the thick of turmoil and romance, confronting spies, secret agents, and double-crossing suitors in her quest to get out of France alive.

4. Daughters of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang

Athletic and strong willed, Princess Emmajin’s determined to do what no woman has done before: become a warrior in the army of her grandfather, the Great Khan Khubilai. In the Mongol world the only way to achieve respect is to show bravery and win glory on the battlefield. The last thing she wants is the distraction of the foreigner Marco Polo, who challenges her beliefs in the gardens of Xanadu. Marco has no skills in the “manly arts” of the Mongols: horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Still, he charms the Khan with his wit and story-telling. Emmajin sees a different Marco as they travel across 13th-century China, hunting ‘dragons’ and fighting elephant-back warriors. Now she faces a different battle as she struggles with her attraction towards Marco and her incredible goal of winning fame as a soldier.

5. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously – and at great risk – documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

6. Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

To Isis worshippers, Princess Selene and her twin brother Helios embody the divine celestial pair who will bring about a Golden Age. But when Selene’s parents are vanquished by Rome, her auspicious birth becomes a curse. Trapped in an empire that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, the young messianic princess struggles for survival in a Roman court of intrigue. She can’t hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her hands, nor can she stop the emperor from using her powers for his own ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined to resurrect her mother’s dreams. Can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win-or die?

7. The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller

Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand–first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand dutchesses living a life steeped in tradition and privilege. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together–sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia.As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny, and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined.At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, this novel by acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism and true compassion.

8. King of Ithaka by Tracy Barrett

Telemachos has a comfortable life on his small island of Ithaka, where his mother Penelopeia keeps the peace even though the land has been without its king, his father Odysseus, since the Trojan War began many years ago. But now the people are demanding a new king, unless Telemachos can find Odysseus and bring him home. With only a mysterious prophecy to guide him, Telemachos sets off over sea and desert in search of the father he has never known.

Advertisements

7 comments on “YA Recommends–Historical Fiction

    • I love books like that. Even though you know how it’s going to end, you still ball your eyes out when it happens. I think that is proof of a great writer. There was another book I read recently that was like that, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head.

  • While I actually haven’t read any of these, (Book thief has been on my list for ages, and Lily of the Nile looks fascinating) I would also reccomend A sweet Disorder by Jaqueline Kolosov, and if you’re looking for romantic historical, any of the Eva Ibbotson books. (Especially A Countess Below Stairs, and A Company of Swans)

    Some of these are going on my goodreads list right now…..

    P.S. Did my opening remind you of The Giver or Matched? I’ve heard both, and both are books that have the potential to be disliked. 😛

    Sorry for the novel of a comment.
    CV

    • I will have to check out a Sweet Disorder.

      It reminds me of Matched, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Mainly with the ceremony and the dress. It is still a beautiful opening regardless. On a side note, the more I think about Matched, the more I want to re-read it and give it a second chance. This time with a different set of expectations–other than anxiety ridden like 1984. I’ll probably wait until next year to do it though, since I already have so many books in my TBR pile, plus with all the reading challenges I’ve joined, I’m swamped.

  • Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: