If you like YA books set in World War II and haven’t read the award winning author Elizabeth Wein, you’re missing out. I just finished the wonderful The Enigma Game (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020). It was fascinating and I learned some new facts too.
Fifteen-year-old British Jamaican Louisa Adair wants to do something to fight the Nazis. Both her parents were killed in the War. But it’s hard simply finding a job. She finally gets one in Scotland, but how can taking care of an elderly German woman accomplish anything for the war efforts?
We also meet Ellen McEwen, a volunteer driver with the Royal Air Force, and Jamie Beaufort-Stuart, a flight leader for the 648 Squadron, and read about their struggles. The three get involved together because of an Enigma machine.
I love the elements of music in this book. And the fact that we meet some characters who often aren’t mentioned positively in books from the time period.
If you’ve read Code Name Verity, you’ve met Jamie before.
Read about the author here and check out her other books here.
Wow! Outrun the Moon (G.P Putnam’s Sons, 2016) by Stacey Lee is an outstanding read. Set in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake, it’s hard to put down. (And such a gorgeous cover.)
Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to go to high school at St. Clare’s School for Girls, but who would ever let a Chinese girl in? The Chinese have their own school–never mind that it ends at 8th grade. Her ingenuity and resourcefulness gets Mercy in, but she’s not accepted by her classmates and even many of the staff. Then the whole community is stricken by the earthquake. Mercy, not only survives, but with the help of some classmates makes a difference to many involved in the disaster.
Stacey Lee is a founding member of the We Need Diverse Books movement. Here’s her website. Check out all her books here.
Previously I recommended her The Secret of a Heart Note and I should have recommended the wonderful The Downstairs Girl.
A Death-Struck Year (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) by Makiia Lucier is a wonderful historical set 100 years ago.
Seventeen-year-old Cleo Berry is temporarily staying at her school in Portland, Oregon while her guardians are on a trip to San Francisco. But then the Spanish influenza, which has been devastating the East Coast, hits Portland. Cleo is supposed to stay at her school but she sneaks out and goes home where she is alone. She ends up volunteering for the Red Cross and risks her life helping those who are stricken with flu.
Cleo is a strong character who grows during the story to understand much more about life, and death, than she ever has before. I love how this wealthy girl who knows so little about practical things in the real world learns what’s really important.
This was author Makiia Lucier’s debut novel. The book was named an ABC Best Books for Children Selection by the American Booksellers Association. Oh, and a bonus on the author’s site is pictures of what Portland was like in 1918. See them here.
Makiia’s next book is a fantasy that came out in April. Read about it here.
Who Killed Christopher Goodman? (Candlewick Press, 2017) by Allan Wolf is a story based on a true crime. This YA historical novel, set in 1979, is inspired by the an event in the author’s past. The story is told in multiple viewpoints, including the killer’s.
Everyone likes teenager Christopher Goodman, even if he is kinda weird. But that’s what makes his murder even more shocking.
The characters whose voices we hear are Doc Chestnut–The Sleepwalker, Leonard Pelf–The Runaway, Squib Kaplan–The Genius, Hunger McCoy–the Good Ol’ Boy, Hazel Turner–the Farm Girl, and Mildred Penny–the Stamp Collector. They are all participating in the Deadwood Days street festival which everyone attends for some summer excitement.
It’s a story of broken and repaired friendships, love, hatred, revenge, hard work, and more.
Go here to see what else Allan has written and has coming out soon. His bio is here where you’ll find out he is a poet as well as an author.