Tag Archives: historical fiction

Someday We Will Fly by Rachel DeWoskin

Someday We Will Fly by Rachel DeWoskin. January 22, 2019. Viking Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9780670014965.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

From the author of Blind, a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story set during World War II in Shanghai, one of the only places Jews without visas could find refuge.

Warsaw, Poland. The year is 1940 and Lillia is fifteen when her mother, Alenka, disappears and her father flees with Lillia and her younger sister, Naomi, to Shanghai, one of the few places that will accept Jews without visas. There they struggle to make a life; they have no money, there is little work, no decent place to live, a culture that doesn’t understand them. And always the worry about Alenka. How will she find them? Is she still alive?

Meanwhile Lillia is growing up, trying to care for Naomi, whose development is frighteningly slow, in part from malnourishment. Lillia finds an outlet for her artistic talent by making puppets, remembering the happy days in Warsaw when her family was circus performers. She attends school sporadically, makes friends with Wei, a Chinese boy, and finds work as a performer at a “gentlemen’s club” without her father’s knowledge.

But meanwhile the conflict grows more intense as the Americans declare war and the Japanese force the Americans in Shanghai into camps. More bombing, more death. Can they survive, caught in the crossfire?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Mild sexual themes, Racism, Sexual assault, Suicide, Underage drinking, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 15, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 12))
Grades 9-12. During WWII, teenage Lillia and her circus acrobat family flee Poland for Shanghai, joining a large Jewish refugee community from both Europe and America. DeWoskin, who has lived in China, has done meticulous research, but what stands out is her lyrical, sensitive portrayal of families struggling to survive during wartime, and the heartbreaking uncertainty that comes from families being separated. Although Lillia’s father gets Lillia and her developmentally disabled baby sister, Naomi, out of Poland before they end up in concentration camps, father and daughters are separated from mother Alenka. Once safely in Shanghai, they find that nothing is easy: food, jobs, housing, medical treatment, and childcare are scarce or nonexistent, and Jewish refugees find themselves crowded into the ghetto of Hongkou. Eventually Lillia takes a job (without her father’s knowledge or permission) as a hostess-dancer at a gentleman’s club, bringing in money for food and medicine—she also develops a romantic relationship with a Chinese boy. All the while, the family aches for Alenka, not knowing if they will ever see her again. Lillia uses her art (dance and puppetry) to keep herself and her family going in the face of constant challenges. Offering an unusual portrait of what war does to families in general and children in particular, DeWoskin is never didactic as she affirms the human need for art and beauty in hard times.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2018)
During World War II, Lillia and her Polish family struggle to make a new home in Shanghai. DeWoskin (Blind, 2014, etc.) explores a rarely depicted topic: the struggles of the Shanghai Jewish refugees. Lillia’s parents, Stanislav Circus acrobats, are performing their last show when the event is raided. Her mother is lost in the confusion, and Lillia, her father, and her developmentally disabled baby sister flee Warsaw, traveling by land and sea to China. Part of Lillia rejects what is going on around her, in innocent disbelief at what people are capable of doing to one another, while another part revels in small freedoms, wandering the streets of Shanghai unmonitored, amazed at discovering a Jewish community in this foreign land. There, in a place where she begins to hate the hope she harbors that her mother will find them, Lillia both discovers new strength and plunges into new depths of desperation, driven to do things that would surprise and appall her old self. Though the instances of Chinese romanized text are missing all tonal marks that denote pronunciation and meaning, English translations are given. The vivid characters are flawed and evolve, sometimes according to or despite their circumstances. Particularly fascinating is the juxtaposition of the plight of Jewish refugees with that of the Chinese living in a Japanese-occupied Shanghai. A beautifully nuanced exploration of culture and people. (author’s note, sources, map) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

About the Author

Rachel DeWoskin spent her twenties in China as the unlikely star of a nighttime soap opera that inspired her memoir Foreign Babes in Beijing. She is the author of Repeat After Me and Big Girl Small, which received the American Library Association’s Alex Award for an adult book with special appeal to teen readers; Rachel’s conversations with young readers inspired her to write her first YA novel, Blind. Rachel is on the faculty of the University of Chicago, where she teaches creative writing.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, playwright Zayd Dohrn, and their two daughters.
Rachel and her family spent six summers in Shanghai while she researched Someday We Will Fly.

Her website is www.tinaconnolly.com.

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Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden

Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden. January 8, 2019. Bloomsbury YA, 272 p. ISBN: 9781681198071.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

In a searing historical novel, Tonya Bolden illuminates post-Reconstruction America in an intimate portrait of a determined young woman who dares to seize the opportunity of a lifetime.

As a young black woman in 1880s Savannah, Essie’s dreams are very much at odds with her reality. Ashamed of her beginnings, but unwilling to accept the path currently available to her, Essie is trapped between the life she has and the life she wants.

Until she meets a lady named Dorcas Vashon, the richest and most cultured black woman she’s ever encountered. When Dorcas makes Essie an offer she can’t refuse, she becomes Victoria. Transformed by a fine wardrobe, a classic education, and the rules of etiquette, Victoria is soon welcomed in the upper echelons of black society in Washington, D. C. But when the life she desires is finally within her grasp, Victoria must decide how much of herself she is truly willing to surrender.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 4))
Grades 9-12. In her follow-up to Crossing Ebenezer Creek​ (2017), Bolden explores what happened to those who survived that journey, through the character of Essie, a young black woman in 1880s Savannah, Georgia. When presented with the chance to start over, Essie becomes Victoria and moves to Baltimore to learn how to become a society lady, eventually ending up living the good life in Washington, D.C. Though she vows to say goodbye to her past, Victoria finds it’s easier said than done. The novel’s short introductory chapters give background to her story and invite readers into Victoria’s life, but their nonlinear arrangement can be hard to follow. Only after several flashbacks and flash-forwards does the book finally settle in real-time narration. The story, as described in Bolden’s author’s note, seeks to illuminate “an often-neglected aspect of black history: the black middle class and black aristocracy of the past.” The rich descriptions of people and life in early America will fascinate readers as the book introduces them to this widely overlooked population in history.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 1, 2018)
In 1880s Savannah, an African-American girl seizes the opportunity to enter a different life. Essie has many questions about the life she’s lived with her mother, her “aunties,” and the white men who visit, feeling closer to their cleaner, Ma Clara—but tough as life is, she knows it’s better than the times of slavery. It is Ma Clara who urges Essie’s Mamma to send her to school. When she leaves home for a housekeeping job, her mother furiously accuses Essie of snobbery, revealing that Essie’s father was a white Union soldier. At the boardinghouse, Essie does her tasks and delights in reading books from the parlor. A guest, Dorcas Vashon, takes an interest in Essie, offering her the chance to start a new life in Baltimore. The lessons that will turn Victoria, Essie’s new chosen name, into a member of the emerging African-American elite are demanding. She meets noteworthy figures such as Frederick Douglass, falls in love, and wonders if she can marry without revealing her past. This unique work seamlessly weaves aspects of black history into the detailed narrative. Essie’s desire for a life she can be proud of is palpable; as Victoria, she emerges as a fully realized character, a product of all her experiences. The depiction of Washington, D.C.’s African-American elite is rich and complex, never shying away from negatives such as colorism and social climbing. A compelling and significant novel. (Historical fiction. 13-18)

About the Author

Tonya Bolden is a critically acclaimed award-winning author/co-author/editor of more than two dozen books for young people. They include Finding Family which received two starred reviews and was a Kirkus Reviews and Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year; Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl, a Coretta Scott King honor book and James Madison Book Award winner; MLK: Journey of a King, winner of a National Council of Teachers of English Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children; Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty, an ALSC Notable Children’s Book, CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and winner of the NCSS Carter G. Woodson Middle Level Book Award. Tonya also received the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC’s Nonfiction Award. A Princeton University magna cum laude baccalaureate with a master’s degree from Columbia University, Tonya lives in New York City.

Her website is www.tonyaboldenbooks.com

Teacher Resources

Inventing Victoria on Common Sense Media

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Inventing Victoria on Amazon

Inventing Victoria on Barnes & Noble

Inventing Victoria on Goodreads

Inventing Victoria on LibraryThing

Inventing Victoria Publisher Page

All Is Fair by Dee Garretson

All Is Fair by Dee Garretson. January 22, 2019. Swoon Reads, 288 p. ISBN: 9781250168696.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Lady Mina Tretheway knows she’s destined for greater things than her fancy boarding school, where she’s being taught to be a proper English lady. It’s 1918, and war is raging across Europe. Unlike her father and brother, who are able to assist in the war effort, Mina is stuck sorting out which fork should be used with which dinner course.

When Mina receives a telegram that’s written in code, she finally has her chance to do something big. She returns to her childhood home of Hallington Manor, joined by a family friend, Lord Andrew Graham, and a dashing and mysterious young American, Lucas. The three of them must band together to work on a dangerous project that could turn the tide of the war.

Thrilled that she gets to contribute to the war effort at least, Mina jumps headfirst into the world of cryptic messages, spycraft, and international intrigue. She, Lucas, and Andrew have to work quickly, because if they don’t succeed, more soldiers will disappear into the darkness of war.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Mild sexual themes, Violence, Mentions of smoking

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 7-10. In the harrowing days of WWI, aristocratic young Lady Thomasina Thretheway, known as Mina, longs for a useful role in the war effort. Will her high-ranking father trust her experience with codes well enough to give her an authentic task helping the Allied effort? When she manages to take the place of an injured operative and close family friend on a daring mission behind enemy lines, the story morphs into a full-fledged war adventure. Amid spy intrigue, coded messages, fairly improbable escapes, a budding romance, and bold derring-do, our quick-thinking, thoroughly engaging protagonist triumphs and the plot never slows. Garretson reaches beyond adventure, too, providing a haunting nuance to the horrors of war through her heroine’s eyes. As Mina and cohorts advance toward troop encampments at the front at one point, she notes the scenario “looked like something out of a nightmare, so bleak and desolate that it was as if all hope had disappeared from the Earth.” An action-packed, yet sobering journey into the war to end all wars.

About the Author

Dee Garretson writes for a wide range of ages, from chapter books to middle grade to young adult and adult fiction. She has a degree in International Relations from Tufts University, and also studied and taught Landscape Horticulture at Cincinnati State, giving her a chance to indulge in her love of both history and of plants.

When she is not at home in Cincinnati writing, reading, and watching old movies, she takes every opportunity to travel, storing up new locations for future stories.

Her website is deegarretson.com

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All Is Fair on Amazon

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All Is Fair on Goodreads

All Is Fair on LibraryThing

All Is Fair Publisher Page

Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac

Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac. October 23, 2018. Dial Books, 320 p. ISBN: 9780735228863.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.9.

A boy discovers his Native American heritage in this Depression-era tale of identity and friendship by the author of Code Talker

It’s 1932, and twelve-year-old Cal Black and his Pop have been riding the rails for years after losing their farm in the Great Depression. Cal likes being a “knight of the road” with Pop, even if they’re broke. But then Pop has to go to Washington, DC–some of his fellow veterans are marching for their government checks, and Pop wants to make sure he gets his due–and Cal can’t go with him. So Pop tells Cal something he never knew before: Pop is actually a Creek Indian, which means Cal is too. And Pop has decided to send Cal to a government boarding school for Native Americans in Oklahoma called the Challagi School.

At school, the other Creek boys quickly take Cal under their wings. Even in the harsh, miserable conditions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, he begins to learn about his people’s history and heritage. He learns their language and customs. And most of all, he learns how to find strength in a group of friends who have nothing beyond each other.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (October 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 3))
Grades 5-8. Multiple compelling Depression-era histories converge in Bruchac’s latest, about a boy attending a government boarding school for Native Americans in 1932. Cal enjoys being a hobo with Pop, riding the rails and doing honest work. But then Pop gives Cal two pieces of life-changing news. The first is that Pop, who Cal always thought was white, is a Creek Indian. Second, Pop is going to D.C. to protest with other WWI veterans for their bonus payments. While Pop is gone, Cal will attend the Challagi Indian Boarding School, where Pop went as a boy. Challagi is a bleak and often brutal place, but, while there, Cal befriends other Native boys from various tribes for the first time. Pop’s recollections of the abuses he witnessed at Challagi are so harsh that readers might initially wonder why he sends his son there—a question Bruchac also thoughtfully addresses in the afterword. But the students’ utter subversion of Challagi’s mission to sever their ties with Indian culture soon becomes apparent, as does Cal’s powerful, growing understanding of his identity.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2018)
Twelve-year-old Cal Blackbird trades the freedom of hobo living with his father, a World War I vet, for the regimented world of Challagi Indian Boarding School. Set in spring and summer of 1932 Depression-era America, Bruchac’s (Abenaki) historical novel sees narrator Cal and his father riding the rails, eking out a meager and honest life as inseparable “knights of the road.” But when Pop reads news about fellow veterans gathering in Washington, D.C., to demand payment of promised bonuses, he decides to “join [his] brother soldiers.” To keep Cal safe while away, Pop tells him about their Creek heritage and enrolls him at Challagi. Even though he’s only “half Creek” and has been raised white, Cal easily makes friends there with a gang of Creek boys and learns more about his language and culture in the process. Though the book is largely educational, Creek readers may notice the language discrepancy when their word for “African-American” is twice used to label a light-skinned Creek boy. Additionally, Cal’s articulation of whiteness sounds more like a 21st-century adult’s then a Depression-era boy’s. More broadly, readers accustomed to encountering characters who struggle along their journeys may find many of the story’s conflicts resolved without significant tension and absent the resonant moments that the subject matter rightly deserves. A lesser-known aspect of Native American history that promises the excitement of riding the rails yet delivers a handcar version of the boarding school experience. (list of characters, afterword) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Joseph Bruchac is a highly acclaimed children’s book author, poet, novelist, and storyteller, as well as a scholar of Native American culture. He is the coauthor of the bestselling Keepers of the Earth series with Michael Caduto. Bruchac’s poems, articles, and stories have appeared in hundreds of publications from Akwesasne Notes and American Poetry Review to National Geographic and Parabola. He has authored many books for adults and children including Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War TwoSkeleton Man, and The Heart of a Chief.

His website is www.josephbruchac.com

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Two Roads on Amazon

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Trinity by Louisa Hall

Trinity by Louisa Hall. October 16, 2018. Ecco, 336 p. ISBN: 9780062851963.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

From the acclaimed author of Speak comes a kaleidoscopic novel about Robert Oppenheimer—father of the atomic bomb—as told by seven fictional characters

J. Robert Oppenheimer was a brilliant scientist, a champion of liberal causes, and a complex and often contradictory character. He loyally protected his Communist friends, only to later betray them under questioning. He repeatedly lied about love affairs. And he defended the use of the atomic bomb he helped create, before ultimately lobbying against nuclear proliferation.

Through narratives that cross time and space, a set of characters bears witness to the life of Oppenheimer, from a secret service agent who tailed him in San Francisco, to the young lover of a colleague in Los Alamos, to a woman fleeing McCarthyism who knew him on St. John. As these men and women fall into the orbit of a brilliant but mercurial mind at work, all consider his complicated legacy while also uncovering deep and often unsettling truths about their own lives.

In this stunning, elliptical novel, Louisa Hall has crafted a breathtaking and explosive story about the ability of the human mind to believe what it wants, about public and private tragedy, and about power and guilt. Blending science with literature and fiction with biography, Trinity asks searing questions about what it means to truly know someone, and about the secrets we keep from the world and from ourselves

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Mild sexual themes, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Most think of Robert Oppenheimer solely as the father of the atom bomb. Hall’s (Speak​, 2015) literary novel attempts to elucidate this multifaceted man more fully. Hall alternates short, third-person vignettes from the day of the first detonation of a nuclear device, the Trinity test, and seven longer “testimonials,” first-person chapters told by various people who knew Oppenheimer from the 1940s to the 1960s. This book is as much about those narrators—a troubled young wife, a former academic from Berkley, a secret service agent—as it is about Oppenheimer. These individuals are complex. Most are damaged in some way, Oppenheimer included, and some teeter on the edge of sanity. With war, McCarthyism, and nuclear proliferation as backdrop, Hall’s observers paint a picture of not just one man but of humanity. What are the secrets we keep? What price will we pay to keep them? Can anyone truly know another human being? Each narrator has a unique and convincing voice in this compelling novel centered on the man who saw himself as “Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2018)
Seven fictional characters tell the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the A-bomb, reflecting on his complicated legacy as they talk about their own lives, which intersect with his. Much has been written about Oppie, as friends called him, the renowned physicist hailed as a hero for his work on the bomb, then pilloried for his left-wing views and Communist Party connections during the McCarthy era. (After JFK was elected in 1960, Oppenheimer’s reputation was rehabilitated.) But in this boldly imagined, multilayered novel, author Hall (Speak, 2015, etc.) takes a new approach. Through her invented narrators, she explores themes of guilt and betrayal as well as the fallout from lies and self-delusion—in the process bringing Oppenheimer, an often aloof, conflicted man, to vivid life. Among those offering “testimonials” as she calls them: Sam Casal, a military intelligence operative, who one evening in 1943 tails the married Oppenheimer from the Rad Lab in Berkeley, California, to the San Francisco apartment of his (real-life) former lover, Jean Tatlock. Then there’s Grace Goodman, a young WAC assigned in 1945 to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the A-bomb was built and tested under Oppie’s supervision. Only the last story, narrated by Helen Childs, a journalist who comes to interview the disillusioned and fatally ill scientist in 1966, goes on too long and strains to make the necessary connection with the man himself. Oppenheimer chose the code name “Trinity” (a reference, apparently, to a John Donne poem Jean Tatlock introduced him to) for the A-bomb test that preceded the historic August 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the beginning of each chapter, as a framing device, the author provides a glimpse of Oppenheimer at work in Los Alamos in the tense hours and minutes leading up to the test. Lushly written, this is an ambitious, unsettling novel that takes on big issues in a passionate, personal way.

About the Author

Louisa Hall grew up in Philadelphia. She is the author of the novels Trinity, Speak, and The Carriage House, and her poems have been published in The New RepublicSouthwest Review, and other journals. She is a professor at the University of Iowa, and the Western Writer in Residence at Montana State University.

Her website is louisahall.net

Teacher Resources

J. Robert Oppenheimer & Manhattan Project Lesson Plans

Around the Web

Trinity on Amazon

Trinity on Barnes and Noble

Trinity on Goodreads

Trinity on LibraryThing

Trinity Publisher Page

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth. October 23, 2018. HarperTeen, 320 p. ISBN: 9780062696878.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge.

When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves.

Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes.

Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was.

But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Violence, Self-harm

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2018)
A mystical novel about three siblings finding, then losing, then finding their ways home again. In the middle of the Blitz, 10-year-old Evelyn Hapwell imagines “a haven of silence and golden light,” wishing to go “Anywhere but here.” She and her two siblings, Philippa and Jamie, are magically summoned to the Woodlands, greeted by a majestic stag named Cervus, who tells the children that “a Woodlands heart always finds its way home.” This refrain is repeated throughout the novel, as it alternates between the children’s adventures in the Woodlands (war, peace, negotiations with corrupt royalty) and their subsequent attempts to readjust to normal life when Cervus sends them back to London. Five and a half years of their experiences collapse when they’re transported back to the middle of the bombing they had escaped, their parents none the wiser. Evelyn, who believes that hers is truly a Woodlands heart, struggles to cope, whereas Jamie and Philippa are happier to be back home. Halfway through, the focus switches from traumatized Evelyn to cool, collected, and competent Philippa, who is a far more intriguing character with a more strongly realized plot than her sister. Main characters are white and there is significant ethnic diversity in secondary characters. The slightly lackluster fantasy at the center of this novel provides an interesting perspective on war, trauma, and recovery. (Fiction. 13-17)

Publishers Weekly (September 3, 2018)
In this haunting historical fantasy similar to Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series for adults, two sisters struggle with reacclimation to the modern world after spending years in a magical realm. In 1944, as London burns during WWII bombings, Philippa, Jamie, and Evelyn Hapwell are transported to the enchanted Woodlands-only to discover that their refuge has its own troubles with war on the horizon. Six years of Woodlands time later, the trio is returned to the moment that they left London, unchanged physically but possessing a lifetime of experiences. Years later, Evelyn, 16, who hasn’t stopped longing for the Woodlands, vanishes in an attempt to return to the only place she’s ever considered home. Her older sister, Philippa, is consumed with guilt over Evelyn’s fate, even as she tries to create a life that doesn’t revolve around responsibility for her sibling. In this love letter to portal fantasies and Narnia, Weymouth infuses her characters with a rich panoply of emotions set against wartime England. A shining thread of hope and healing mitigates the book’s heartbreak and underlying trauma, suggesting a bright future for all involved. Ages 13-up.

About the Author

Laura Weymouth is a Canadian living in exile in America, and the sixth consecutive generation of her family to immigrate from one country to another. Born and raised in the Niagara region of Ontario, she now lives at the edge of the woods in western New York, along with her husband, two wild-hearted daughters, a spoiled cat, an old soul of a dog, and an indeterminate number of chickens.

Her website is www.lauraeweymouth.com

Teacher Resources

The Light Between Worlds review on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

The Light Between Worlds on Amazon

The Light Between Worlds on Barnes and Noble

The Light Between Worlds on Goodreads

The Light Between Worlds on LibraryThing

The Light Between Worlds Publisher Page

In Another Time by Caroline Leech

In Another Time by Caroline Leech. August 28, 2018. HarperTeen, 320 p. ISBN: 9780062459916.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 990.

Love is worth the fight

It’s 1942, and Maisie McCall is in the Scottish Highlands doing her bit for the war effort as a Women’s Timber Corps lumberjill. Maisie relishes her newfound independence and her growing friendships—especially with the enigmatic John Lindsay.

As Maisie and John work side-by-side felling trees, Maisie can’t help but feel like their friendship has the spark of something more to it. And yet every time she gets close to him, John pulls away. It’s not until Maisie rescues John from a terrible logging accident that he begins to open up to her about the truth of his past, and the pain he’s been hiding.

Suddenly everything is more complicated than Maisie expected. And as she helps John untangle his shattered history, she must decide if she’s willing to risk her heart to help heal his. But in a world devastated by war, love might be the only thing left that can begin to heal what’s broken.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes; Violence

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 16))
Grades 7-10. As WWII rages on, Maisie McCall leaves a judgmental family behind to join up with the Women’s Timber Corps as a lumberjill, felling trees in the Scottish Highlands while the men are at war. As she learns to swing an ax and haul lumber, soft and quiet Maisie discovers strengths she never knew she had and forges fast friendships with the girls she meets. She befriends men as well, including John Lindsay, an enigmatic Canadian with the soul of a poet, who refuses to dance on nights out and loses his temper when he’s teased for not wearing a soldier’s uniform. Maisie and John grow closer despite his walls, but it’s not until a logging accident that Maisie truly begins to understand why John keeps her at a distance. WWII romances are not uncommon, but this particular backdrop—a logging camp in the Scottish Highlands—is not often portrayed, and is likely to intrigue readers. A slow-burning, character-driven exploration of the lingering scars left by war.

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2018)
A teen lumbergirl finds wartime romance in the Scottish Highlands. It’s 1942. Seventeen-year-old Margaret “Maisie” McCall sees joining in Great Britain’s war effort as an honorable excuse to leave her unhappy home, but since she’s too young for the armed services, she signs up for the Women’s Timber Corps and becomes a lumberjill. Two weeks into her training she meets a man named John Lindsay at a local dance—he’s physically attractive and initially seems kind, but he’s clumsy and storms off before their dance is complete. A month later, in her remote first post in the Scottish forest camp of Auchterblair, Speyside, she runs into John again—he’s a lumberjack nearby. Weeks into a somewhat awkward romance, Maisie discovers that John has a prosthetic leg, which he’s somehow managed to hide from most of his fellow corpsman despite sharing a dormitory with them. Their romance proceeds despite John’s basic unlikability. The story unfolds from Maisie’s point of view but is told more than shown; the characters feel emotionally inconsistent, and the flat story arc provides little suspense. In alignment with the time and location, it follows a white default. An interesting setting and good use of historical details aren’t, in the end, enough to hold reader interest.(Historical fiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Caroline Leech is a Scottish writer who moved to Texas for an adventure ten years ago. She lives in Houston with her husband and three teenage children. Wait for Me was her debut novel, followed by In Another Time.

Her website is www.carolineleech.com

Around the Web

In Another Time on Amazon

In Another Time on Barnes and Noble

In Another Time on Goodreads

In Another Time Publisher Page

Grenade by Alan Gratz

Grenade by Alan Gratz. October 9, 2018. Scholastic Press, 241 p. ISBN: 9781338245691.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.0; Lexile: 760.

It’s 1945, and the world is in the grip of war.

Hideki lives on the island of Okinawa, near Japan. When WWII crashes onto his shores, Hideki is drafted into the Blood and Iron Student Corps to fight for the Japanese army. He is handed a grenade and a set of instructions: Don’t come back until you’ve killed an American soldier.

Ray, a young American Marine, has just landed on Okinawa. He doesn’t know what to expect — or if he’ll make it out alive. He just knows that the enemy is everywhere.

Hideki and Ray each fight their way across the island, surviving heart-pounding ambushes and dangerous traps. But when the two of them collide in the middle of the battle, the choices they make in that instant will change everything.

From the acclaimed author of Refugee comes this high-octane story of how fear can tear us apart, and how hope can tie us back together.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Racism, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2018)
In the waning days of World War II, two young soldiers tell both sides of their fight to survive. It’s 1945, and Okinawa has been forced into the middle of the war between Japan and the United States. Thirteen-year-old Okinawan Hideki has been drafted to fight in the Imperial Japanese Army. Told the Americans are “monsters,” Hideki is sent off with two grenades, one to kill as many Americans as possible and one to kill himself. Meanwhile, Ray, a young, white American Marine, has landed on the beaches of Okinawa for his first battle. Only knowing what he has been taught and told, Ray is unsure of what to expect facing the Japanese army and also the Okinawan civilians—who are “simple, polite, law-abiding, and peaceable,” according to an informational brochure provided by command. Switching between the two perspectives of Hideki and Ray, Gratz (Refugee, 2017, etc.) has created a story of two very harsh realities. He shows what happens to humans as the fear, violence, and death war creates take over lives and homes. The authentic telling can be graphic and violent at times, but that contributes to the creation of a very real-feeling lens into the lives changed by war. A large-type opening note informs readers that period terminology has been used for the sake of accuracy, and a closing author’s note elaborates on this. Intense and fast-paced, this is a compelling, dark, yet ultimately heartening wartime story. (maps, historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

School Library Journal (October 1, 2018)
Gr 5 Up-In 1945, as the U.S. army neared mainland Japan, the Imperial Japanese Army evacuated its elite troops from Okinawa and left behind a force meant to slow down the Americans in the bloodiest way possible. They recruited the native Okinawans into this army, including teens like Hideki, one of the two narrators of this gripping World War II novel. As Hideki takes his two grenades (one to kill U.S. soldiers and one to kill himself), he is fated to come across the other narrator, a young American soldier, Ray. Based on research and firsthand accounts the author heard while in Okinawa, history comes violently to life in this character-driven, fictionalized account. The battle details are accurate and the characters and the growing sense of the battle’s futility are well drawn and poignant. There is some offensive contemporaneous language referring to Japanese people used within the narrative, which is explained in a note at the beginning and in greater detail in the detailed historical note at the end. While this is a chilling, realistic depiction of war, the violence is not glorified or graphically described. VERDICT An excellent World War II novel, best suited for mature readers who can handle the sensitive content and brutal realities of wartime.-Elizabeth Nicolai, Anchorage Public Library, AK

About the Author

Alan Gratz is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for young readers, including GrenadeRefugeeProjekt 1065, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016; Prisoner B-3087, a Junior Library Guild selection that was named to YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults list; and Code of Honor, a YALSA 2016 Quick Pick. Alan lives in North Carolina with his wife and daughter.

His website is alangratz.blogspot.com/

Teacher Resources

Grenade on Common Sense Media

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Grenade on Amazon

Grenade on Barnes and Noble

Grenade on Goodreads

Grenade Publisher Page

The War Outside by Monica Hesse

The War Outside by Monica Hesse. September 25, 2018. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 336 p. ISBN: 9780316316699.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

A novel of conviction, friendship, and betrayal.

It’s 1944, and World War II is raging across Europe and the Pacific. The war seemed far away from Margot in Iowa and Haruko in Colorado–until they were uprooted to dusty Texas, all because of the places their parents once called home: Germany and Japan.

Haruko and Margot meet at the high school in Crystal City, a “family internment camp” for those accused of colluding with the enemy. The teens discover that they are polar opposites in so many ways, except for one that seems to override all the others: the camp is changing them, day by day, and piece by piece. Haruko finds herself consumed by fear for her soldier brother and distrust of her father, who she knows is keeping something from her. And Margot is doing everything she can to keep her family whole as her mother’s health deteriorates and her rational, patriotic father becomes a man who distrusts America and fraternizes with Nazis.

With everything around them falling apart, Margot and Haruko find solace in their growing, secret friendship. But in a prison the government has deemed full of spies, can they trust anyone–even each other?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Mild language, Racism, Accidental death of children

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 9-12. It’s 1944 and WWII is raging, and Japanese American Haruko and German American Margot and their families—both regarded by the U.S. government as enemy aliens—have been remanded to the Crystal City, Texas, family internment camp. Though the German and Japanese populations there are largely self-segregated, Haruko and Margot meet and become unlikely friends. As their friendship intensifies, the two girls begin to fantasize about a life together outside the camp, but then two momentous things happen: they experience a moment of unusual, almost frightening intensity, and two little girls, one German and one Japanese, drown in the camp pool. After that, things change dramatically and irredeemably. Hesse (Girl in the Blue Coat, 2016) has written an extraordinary novel of injustice and xenophobia based on real history. The Crystal City camp actually existed, as did a few characters and situations portrayed in the novel. Hesse does a superb job of recreating life as it was lived by innocent people forced to exist surrounded by barbed wire fences and guards. In Haruko and Margot, she has written developed, multidimensional characters who live dramatically on the page. Readers will empathize with them and their plight, wishing the best for them but also understanding, thanks to the author’s unsparing honesty and integrity, that not all endings are happy ones.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
Interned in a Texas camp during World War II, Japanese-American Haruko and German-American Margot watch their families fall apart and are driven to depend on each other, even if they should not. In 1944, teenagers Haruko Tanaka and Margot Krukow are imprisoned with their families in Crystal City, a Department of Justice family internment camp for Japanese- and German-born prisoners of war. Different from the War Relocation Authority internment camps, these are specifically meant for enemy aliens, with the possibility of repatriation to their birth countries. Haruko, fearing for her brother, Ken, serving in the 442nd division of the U.S. Army, and resenting her secretive father for their situation, starts pulling away from her family. Margot tries to keep her small family together as her pregnant mother sickens and her father is pushed by frustration and persecution into Nazi ideology. Though vastly different, the two girls find themselves attracted to each other in more ways than one. Hesse (American Fire, 2017, etc.) painstakingly researched accounts from various archival records to convey the rich and complex emotions surrounding a shameful episode of injustice in American history, during which human beings were involuntarily and irrevocably changed through the choices of others. An exploration of lesser-known aspects of Japanese-American and German-American internment during World War II. (map, historical notes) (Historical fiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Monica Hesse is the national bestselling author of the true crime love story American Fire, and the historical mystery novel Girl in the Blue Coat, which has been translated into a dozen languages and won the 2017 Edgar award in the Young Adult category. She is a feature writer for the Washington Post, where she has been a winner of the Society for Feature Journalism’s Narrative Storytelling award, and a finalist for a Livingston Award and a James Beard Award. Monica lives in Maryland. with her husband and a brainiac dog.

Her website is www.monicahesse.com

Teacher Resources

The War Outside Reading Group Guide

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The War Outside on Amazon

The War Outside on Barnes and Noble

The War Outside on Goodreads

The War Outside Publisher Page

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. October 2, 2018. Katherine Tegen Books, 450 p. ISBN: 9780062795328.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

In this highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Felicity Montague must use all her womanly wits and wiles to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor—even if she has to scheme her way across Europe to do it. A must-have for fans of Mackenzi Lee’s extraordinary and Stonewall Honor-winning novel.

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.

But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid.

In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

Sequel to: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Part of Series: Montague Siblings (Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Mild sexual themes, Racism

 

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Though her elder brother Monty may be content, cuddled up in the dregs of London with the boy of his dreams (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, 2017), Felicity Montague has grander ambitions. Unfortunately, it’s the eighteenth century, and ambition in a woman isn’t well received. Felicity, who is determined to become a physician, has been met with resounding rejection from the hospitals of Edinburgh, though she has received a proposal that she won’t be accepting. Then she learns her medical idol may need an assistant, and he’s more forward-thinking than most—but he’s about to marry Johanna Hoffman, Felicity’s childhood best friend turned nemesis. Still, Felicity never said no to a challenge before, and so begins an adventure featuring field surgery, pirates, sea dragons, and one truly massive dog. Felicity, comfortable discussing medical science and not much else, and who ultimately realizes that she’s not interested in romantic or sexual relationships of any kind, is a singular heroine; Lee navigates her narration with even more aplomb than she did Monty’s. Felicity’s reconnection with Johanna and her gradual awareness of her own dismissiveness toward traditionally feminine interests adds wonderful depth, and Sim, the Muslim pirate inspired by pirate queens through history, offers a different image of strength and a window into a wider world. Lee’s research is thorough and organically incorporated, and this action-driven adventure is a joy.

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2018)
Felicity Montague fights to take up space in a world that demands she remain invisible. Barred from study at hospitals and universities because of her sex, Felicity chases her dreams of medical study from London all the way to Stuttgart, where her idol, Alexander Platt, an expert in preventative medicine, plans to marry before embarking on an expedition. Without any money of her own since she ran away from home, white English girl Felicity must rely on Sim, an Algerian Muslim woman with connections to piracy and secret motives. To make matters worse, Platt’s fiancee, Johanna Hoffman, also white, used to be Felicity’s best friend until falling out over their changing interests. As in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017), Stonewall Honor recipient Lee (Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World, 2018, etc.) develops a world rich in historical detail, crafts a plot wild with unexpected turns, and explores complex topics like colonization and identity. Felicity’s brother, Monty, and his boyfriend, Percy, play smaller roles in this volume; the story focuses on the relationships between Felicity, Sim, and Johanna as the three women fight their own battles for respect and recognition within societal systems built to suppress them. Traveling alongside Sim and Johanna challenges Felicity to acknowledge the flaws of her not-like-other-girls self-image and realize that strength comes in more than one form. An empowering and energetic adventure that celebrates friendship between women. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Simmons College. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the historical fantasy novels This Monstrous Thing and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (HarperCollins), as well as the forthcoming The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (coming in 2018 from HarperCollins) and Semper Augustus (coming in 2019 from Flatiron/Macmillan). She is also the author of Bygone Badass Broads (Abrams, 2018), a collection of short biographies of amazing women from history you probably don’t know about but definitely should, based on her popular twitter series of the same name.

She currently calls Boston home, where she manages an independent bookstore, drinks too much Diet Coke, and pets every dog she meets.

Her website is www.mackenzilee.com

Teacher Resources

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy on Amazon

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy on Barnes and Noble

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy on Goodreads

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy Publisher Page