I don't know about you, but I have a weakness for books set during World War II. There is something about that era--the society and culture, the music, the clothes, the hairstyles, the radio shows, the movies--that just appeals to me. Here are a handful of titles--some geared towards kids and young adults, others geared towards adults. Though almost all of them are family friendly.
A Woman's Place by Lynn Austin. I love this one. Just love it. The book follows the lives of four vey different women in a small town in Michigan during World War II. " Ginny, or "Virginia" as her husband insists on calling her, is a housewife in her thirties who feels underappreciated and unloved. Helen is a woman in her fifties who is wealthy and bitter and angry. Rosa is a young newlywed from Brooklyn. She met a young man in the Navy and suddenly finds herself living with her inlaws while the war is on. And Jean is fresh out of high school--fresh from the farm, one of eighteen children. She has six brothers enlisted in various branches of the service. Each woman finds herself employed at Stockton Shipyards. Each has felt called to serve her nation. Each one is there for their own personal reasons as well." My review. Published for adults, but young adults who love historical fiction could easily pick this one up.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This one is for adults as well. I haven't read it--not completed it anyway. (I've got it started.) So I'm not sure if it could be read and enjoyed by teens or not. But I have a lot of bloggy friends who love this one. Like Sarah Miller. And Candice Ransom. And Becky Bilby. It's got 222 5-Star ratings on Amazon, and only 4 1-Star ratings. So chances are good :)
Ten Cents A Dance by Christine Fletcher. 14+ My review. "Set around 1940-1941, the novel follows the adventures and misadventures of a teen girl, Ruby Jacinski, who is charmed away from the meat factories by the glamor and allure of a local dance hall. Instead of slaving all day for a very small paycheck, she could be dancing the night away at a taxi dance hall. Ten cents per dance. A nickel is hers to keep. A nickel is the dance hall's share. And her partners almost always tip as well...They want much more than a dance for their trouble if they're going to spend more than a dime or two on her. It's a sometimes dangerous game that Ruby is playing with herself."
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. 13+ My review. "There is depth, substance, to these words, to this story. The descriptions. The details. The powerful sway of the words whether they're describing the beauty of love and family and friendship or capturing the ugly heaviness of hate, anger, and death. It's not an easy story to read. It's full of emotions. It's full of words. It's a book that at it's very heart and soul captures humanity in all its depths--the good, the bad, the ugly. Here is a book that captures what it means to be human."
The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages. 10+ My review. "Set in Los Alamos, New Mexico, during World War II, THE GREEN GLASS SEA tells the story of two young girls--Dewey and Suze--whose parents work for the government on a top-secret project called Project Manhattan. Told that they are working on the gadget that will end the war, the children are confused by their new surroundings but soon become accustomed to its strangeness."
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli. 10+ My review. "Milkweed is a wonderful fictional account of the Holocaust. Set in Warsaw, Poland, our narrator is at first a nameless thief--a thief without a past, a family, or a name. Adopted by sorts by a gang of thieves--who steal to survive--he makes his way into the world. As he learns from the world around them, from his gang, from the people he encounters, he learns a few things. One, it is never a ‘good’ thing to be a Jew. It is dangerous if people think you’re a Jew. You get beaten up. You get killed. So his friends--one friend in particular, named Uri--makes up a story for this homeless boy. He’s a gypsy--being a gypsy is slightly safer than being a Jew--but not much. His created identity is Misha Pilsudski. But that is only one of the names he’ll wear throughout his life. Misha (formerly Stopthief) as the war progresses becomes a skilled smuggler who goes back and forth between the Jewish ghettos and the city. It’s a dangerous lifestyle. But these are dangerous times. Can anyone really be safe? In this harsh novel, our narrator learns some of the cruelties of life along with some of the small joys and pleasures. He learns to create and mold his own identity from the wreckage."
Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman. 12+ My review. "Set in India during the early years of World War II, Climbing the Stairs is narrated by a charming young woman, 15, Vidya, who dreams of nothing more than going to college and continuing her education. She has an older brother, Kitta, a best friend, Rifka. When the novel begins, Vidya seems to have everything she wants within her grasp. Her parents have agreed that she won't be put on the marriage market quite yet unlike her cousin, Malati. And on a special father-daughter bonding trip, her father even agrees that she should go to college. And then....and then tragedy strikes."
On The Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck. 9+ My review. "Richard Peck is an amazing writer of historical fiction. And ON THE WINGS OF HEROES is nostalgia at its best. Set during the early forties, in the days before and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, it captures the life of an American family in a small town."
Jimmy's Stars by Mary Ann Rodman. 9+ My review. "Jimmy's Stars is the story of a family on the homefront in World War II. Ellie, our heroine, is a young girl, only eleven, when her brother Jimmy is sent to war."
Don't Talk to Me About the War by David A. Adler. 9+ My review. "Don't Talk To Me About the War spans the time of May of 1940 through (in the epilogue at least) December 1941."
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews