The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (YA Fiction ZUS)
In Germany, during World War II, Liesel Meminger lives with her foster parents outside Munich. Although Liesel does not know how to read, she can’t resist stealing books whenever she sees them. With the help of her foster father, she soon learns to read the books she has stolen. Reading these books aloud helps calm the neighborhood during bombing raids and creates a bond with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
Willow by Tonya Cherie Hegamin (YA Fiction HEG)
It’s 1848 and fifteen-year-old Willow is her master’s favorite servant. She has been taught to read and write, believes her master is good to her, and fears rebel runaway slaves. Seventeen-year-old Cato is a free born black man. He is working to free as many slaves as he can. When Willow’s and Cato’s lives intersect, both of them face life-changing consequences.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (YA Fiction WEI)
A young WWII spy, Julie, is caught by Nazis in occupied France while working undercover. Julie relates her story to her captors, explaining how she met her friend Maddie, a pilot, and how she ended up imprisoned in France. Julie is writing her story under duress, cigarettes are pressed to her neck and she is under the constant threat of being burned alive. This is a story of friendship and love in times of war and a look at what it takes to be a true war hero. The companion novel to this book is Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli (YA Fiction SPI)
It’s 1939 and a nameless boy lives in the streets of Warsaw, surviving by stealing food for himself and the other orphans. He dreams of becoming a Nazi someday. Until the day he visits the Jewish ghetto and the evil acts of the Nazi soldiers make him change his mind.
A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller (YA Fiction BIG)
Victoria Darling lives in London in 1909 and wants nothing more than to become an artist, which is a nearly impossible dream for a girl. When Vicky poses nude for an art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. To overcome the scandal, Vicky’s parents try to marry her to wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other plans: to apply the The Royal College of Art, participate in the suffragette movement, and pursue a working-class boy who has become her muse.
I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin (YA Fiction AGO)
Eleven-year-old Celeste Marconi lives peacefully in Chile until she begins to notice that political unrest is sweeping through the country. There are warships in the harbor, schoolmates are disappearing, and the government declares artists, protestors, and anyone helping the needy “subversive.” Because of this, Celeste’s parents must go into hiding. To protect Celeste they send her to America. Celeste must adapt to her new life in Maine and hope that one day her parents will come back for her and her country will be safe again.
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo (YA Fiction MOR)
While Private Thomas Peaceful is on night watch in the battlefields of World War I, he looks back on his childhood. His memories are full of his family, life in the countryside, and the love of his life, Molly. Although Thomas was too young to enlist, he lied about his age and enlisted when his brother did. The book follows the story of two brothers who do everything together, from loving the same girl to going off to war.
The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni (YA Fiction SAL)
When Verity Boone returns home to Catawissa, Pennsylvania in 1867, nothing is as she expects. She returns home to a father she barely knows, a future husband who shares nothing in common with her, and the graves of her mother and aunt which are enclosed in iron cages outside of the cemetery. Nobody will explain the cages to Verity, but she hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. In order to find out what the cages are hiding, Verity must enter a life-and-death struggle with the people she trusted the most.
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (YA Fiction SEP)
Seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is the daughter of a brothel prostitute in New Orleans in 1950. Josie wants nothing more than to escape the life of her mother and find out what else life has to offer. As Josie makes plans to leave New Orleans, she gets tangled up in the investigation of a mysterious death that makes her question her allegiances, and lures her into temptation at every turn.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (YA Fiction SEP)
Lina is a normal fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl until the night Soviet officers barge into her home and tear her family from the life they have always known. Lina, her mother, and her younger brother are separated from her father and forced into an overcrowded train car. In these terrible conditions, the family slowly makes their way to Siberia where they are forced to work and fight for their lives in the bitter cold and the cruelest conditions. Lina documents everything through art and hopes that her messages will find their way to her father's prison camp.
Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott (YA Fiction WIV)
Based on a true story, and told through poetry, this book tells the tale of a group of girls who worked at the munitions factory in Auschwitz and survived the concentration camp together. Separated from their families, the girls turn to each other to survive the horrors they face.