7 Great Historical Y.A. Novels

7 Great Historical Y.A. Novels


Are you looking for a novel that a picky teenager will perceive as relevant, not dated, even a few years after it was published? If so, I recommend historical fiction.

Hear me out. It takes most novels at least a year to be written, then at least another to be published … and sometimes much longer. In that time, a teenager’s daily life has been transformed. Technology — from cellphones to social media platforms — has evolved. The most popular celebrities, memes and fashions have come and gone. For teenagers, a trend that is, say, five years old, is worse than dead. It is embarrassing. That’s a tough nut to crack for contemporary Y.A. writers.

But a historical Y.A. novel does not have that problem. It is never out of date, because it is not about the present, that moving target. A great historical novel will always feel fresh and authentic.

There is also the fact that teenagers of the past had to grow up much faster. They faced real-life responsibilities and challenges that thrill, fascinate and sometimes terrify young readers of today. For a teenager looking for a fictional yet realistic world to get lost in, these novels may be just the ticket.

Image
Credit…

A Scottish girl spy named Queenie is at the center of this thrilling tale of friendship set during World War II. She’s imprisoned in a cell at the Gestapo headquarters in Nazi-occupied France. Her captor forces her to write a confession, allowing her to stay alive while she completes it. When she’s not being tortured by a grim lady deputy, Queenie composes her story, describing her growing friendship with a brave pilot named Maddie, who flew them to France, as well as the details of the British war effort. But there is so much more to her and Maddie’s tale than the Nazis — or the reader — realizes. You finish this book, then want to race back to the beginning to see how it all fits together.

Image

The 16th-century rivalry between Mary Tudor and her sister Elizabeth is the inspiration for this graphic novel, in which a baby girl named Margaret arrives at a convent on an island in the kingdom of Albion. The nuns raise her and give her a good life, but the question of her own parents, and why they sent her away, nags at her. When a mysterious young woman appears on the island and is locked away in the convent, Margaret learns some shocking lessons: how a queen can easily become a pawn, and how she might find a way to take control of her own life.

Image
Credit…

One of the most fascinating stories of World War II is the role played by Navajos, who were recruited by the Marines to use their native tongue — one of the most complex of all American Indian languages — to create a code the Japanese could not break. The protagonist of this action-packed novel, Ned Begay, tells his grandchildren about his wartime experiences as part of the top-secret Navajo code talkers — years of training and combat in locations including Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The result is an eye-opening new view of the war, and of the position of Native peoples in U.S. society.

Image

This book might seem like a gimmick, but even if it is, it’s a terrific one: Seven Y.A. authors join forces to tell the thrilling, bloody tale of King Henry VIII and his six wives. Anderson, the lone male of the writers, tells Henry’s side, while the women’s voices — from Fleming’s Katharine of Aragon to Hopkinson’s Kateryn Parr, Wife No. 6 — paint a suspenseful picture of doomed romance and courtly intrigue. The overall effect is something greater even than its riveting parts, shedding light on the plight of women in a patriarchal society and the ways they found their voices.

Image
Credit…no credit

This gorgeous novel from the award-winning Vietnamese-American author Lai is set in the 1970s and 1980s, a period that fascinates teenagers. It’s tantalizingly close, but everything is different. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, a girl named Hang arrives in Texas as a refugee. When she was 12 and living in Saigon, she mistakenly allowed her younger brother, Linh, to be taken away without her by Americans airlifting children to safety. Now Hang is 18 and, with the help of a wannabe cowboy, finds her brother and tries to reunite with him. But Linh is American now, renamed David, and barely remembers her. The period details — and the emotion — are done to heartbreaking perfection.

Image
Credit…no credit

Sepetys is an absolute master of suspenseful historical fiction that plunges you into dangerous political moments, showing the life-or-death stakes for characters who seem achingly real. The novel is set in 1957 in Franco’s repressive Spain, where women are silenced and Republican sympathizers are rounded up regularly. Ana, the young heroine, meets a boy from Texas who is spending a month in Spain. As their relationship deepens, she finds herself dreaming of a better, freer life, and risks her future to work with him in the underground resistance.

Image
Credit…no credit

This book’s protagonist, Jo Kuan, is an American-born Chinese teenager living in 1890s Atlanta. She is not black and not white — she’s in some murky no-place in the nation’s racial hierarchy. Jo has been raised by an aging Chinese stable hand, Old Gin, in a basement apartment originally built as a station on the Underground Railroad. When their upstairs neighbors, a family who edit and print a local newspaper, are threatened with eviction, Jo tries to save the newspaper by writing a feisty advice column under the pseudonym “Miss Sweetie.” It’s a hit. Freed by her alter ego’s voice, Jo talks about racial bias, the new Jim Crow laws and women’s suffrage — all while offering the kind of practical advice you’d expect from a popular “agony aunt.” Through all this, she’s navigating her own emotional challenges.

Follow New York Times Books on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, sign up for our newsletter or our literary calendar. And listen to us on the Book Review podcast.





Source link

About The Author

We are independent. we bring you the Real news from around the world.

Related posts

Leave a Reply