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Teen Historical Fiction 20th Century

Teen Historical Fiction

Ancient History - Renaissance List 15th Century - 19th Century List

 

The Edwardian Period (1901 to 1910)

A Mad, Wicked Folly
by Sharon Biggs
YA F BIGGS
In 1909 London, as the world of debutante balls and high society obligations closes in around her, 17-year-old Victoria must figure out just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. 384 pages

Deadly
by Julie Chibbaro
YA F CHIBBARO
Sixteen-year-old Prudence Galewski takes a job assisting the head epidemiologist at New York’s Department of Health and Sanitation, investigating the intriguing case of “Typhoid Mary,” a seemingly healthy woman who is infecting others with typhoid fever. 293 pages

A Northern Light
by Jennifer Donnelly
YA F DONNELLY
In 1906, 16-year-old Mattie, determined to attend college and be a writer against the wishes of her father and fiancé, takes a job at a summer inn where she discovers the truth about the death of a guest. 389 pages

The Friday Society
by Adrienne Kress
YA F KRESS
Cora, Nellie, and Michiko, teenaged assistants to three powerful men in Edwardian London, meet by chance at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered man, leading the three to work together to solve this and related crimes without drawing undue attention to themselves. 448 pages

Sweet Madness
by Trisha Leaver
YA F LEAVER
  Bridget Sullivan, a maid in the Borden household, describes the events leading up to the murder of Andrew Borden and his second wife, and how the youngest daughter, Lizzie, was put on trial for the crime.223 pages

Diamonds and Deceit
by Leila Rasheed
YA F RASHEED
Rose grows into her new titled position in the Averley family, while Ada must decide between saving her family or betraying her heart.424 pages

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
by Gary D. Schmidt
YA F SCHMIDT
In 1911, Turner Buckminster hates his new home of Phippsburg, Maine, but things improve when he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from a poor, nearby island community that the town fathers want to change into a tourist spot. 219 pages

The Hired Girl
by Laura Amy Schlitz
YA F SCHLITZ
Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs chronicles her life in a journal when she leaves her family's farm in Pennsylvania to work as a hired girl in Baltimore in the summer of 1911. 387 pages

The Watch that Ends the Night
by Allan Wolf
YA F WOLF
Recreates the sinking of the Titanic as observed by millionaire John Jacob Astor, a beautiful young Lebanese refugee finding first love, “Unsinkable” Molly Brown, Captain Smith, and others including the iceberg itself. 466 pages

Russia

Anastasia's Secret
by Susanne Emily Dunlap
YA F DUNLAP
As world war and the looming Russian Revolution threaten all they hold dear, Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II, and her family are being held in captivity, where she falls in love with one of their captors. 333 pages

Anastasia and Her Sisters
by Carolyn Meyer
YA F MEYER
A novel in diary form in which the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II describes the privileged life her family led up until the time of World War I and the tragic events that befell them.310 pages

Women’s Right Movement (1848 to 1920)

Audacity
by Melanie Crowder
YA F CROWDER
A historical fiction novel in verse detailing the life of Clara Lemlich and her struggle for women's labor rights in the early 20th century in New York. 389 pages

The Cure for Dreaming
by Cat Winters
YA F WINTERS
In Portland, Oregon, in 1900, 17-year-old Olivia Mead, a suffragist, is hypnotized by the intriguing young Henri Reverie, who's paid by her father to make her more docile and womanly but who, instead, gives her the ability to see people's true natures, while she secretly continues fighting for women's rights. 352 pages

World War I (1914 to 1918)

The Goodbye Season
by Marian Hale
YA F HALE
Mercy’s dreams of a different life than her mother’s are postponed by harsh circumstances, including the influenza epidemic of 1918-19. 271 pages

Hattie Big Sky
by Kirby Larson
YA F LARSON
After inheriting her uncle's homesteading claim in Montana, sixteen-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks travels from Iowa in 1917 to make a home for herself and encounters some unexpected problems related to the war being fought in Europe.  289 pages

Listen to the Moon
by Michael Morpurgo
YA F MORPURGO
A tale inspired by the sinking of the Lusitania during World War I follows the experiences of a young British boy and his father, who take in a lost girl who is suspected of being a German. 352 pages

The Foreshadowing
by Marcus Sedgwick
YA F SEDGWICK
Having always been able to know when someone is going to die, Alexandra poses as a nurse to go to France during World War I to locate her brother and to try to save him from the fate she has foreseen for him.  293 pages

Megiddo's Shadow
by Arthur Slade
YA F SLADE
After the death of his beloved older brother Hector in World War I, sixteen-year-old Edward leaves the family farm in Canada to enlist in Hector's battalion, where he attempts to come to terms with what has happened.  290 pages

Armenian Genocide (Turkey, 1915 to 1923)

The Forgotten Fire
by Adam Bagdasarian
YA F BAGDASAR
In 1915, Vahan’s life of privilege is shattered when family and friends disappear or are shot before his eyes in the Armenian Genocide. 272 pages

Like Water on Stone
by Dana Walrath
YA F WALRATH
Inspired by a true story, this relates the tale of siblings Sosi, Shahen, and Mariam who survive the Armenian genocide of 1915 by escaping from Turkey alone over the mountains. 353 pages

Influenza Epidemic (1918)

A Death-Struck Year
by Makiia Lucier
YA F LUCIER
When the Spanish influenza epidemic reaches Portland, Oregon, in 1918, 17-year-old Cleo leaves behind the comfort of her boarding school to work for the Red Cross. 282 pages

In the Shadow of Blackbirds
by Cat Winters
YA F WINTERS
In 1918, as deadly influenza and World War I take their toll, 16-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches desperate mourners flock to séances and, despite her scientific leanings, must consider if ghosts are real when her first love, killed in battle, returns. 387 pages

The Roaring Twenties (1918 to 1929)

Bright Young Things
by Anna Godbersen
YA F GODBERSE
In 1929, Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur run away from their small Ohio town to seek their fortunes in New York City and soon find themselves drawn into situations and relationships that change their lives forever. 389 pages

Uprising
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
YA F HADDIX
In 1927, Mrs. Livingston recalls her experiences at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, including miserable working conditions that led to a strike and the fire that killed her best friends. 346 pages

A Countess Below Stairs
by Eva Ibbotson
YA F IBBOTSON
A young earl cancels his wedding plans when he falls in love with the new housemaid, who is really a penniless Russian countess exiled to England. 383 pages

Monkey Town: A Story of the Scopes Trial
by Ronald Kidd
YA F KIDD
When her father hatches a plan to bring publicity to their small town by arresting a high school teacher for teaching about evolution, the resulting trial prompts Frances to rethink many of her beliefs. 259 pages

Runner
by Robert Newton
YA F NEWTON
In Australia, in 1919, Charlie Feehan becomes an errand boy for a notorious mobster, hoping that his ability to run will help him, his mother, and his baby brother to escape poverty. 209 pages

Crossing the Tracks
by Barbara Stuber
YA F STUBER                 
In Missouri in 1926, 15-year-old Iris Baldwin discovers what family truly means when her father hires her out for the summer as a companion to a country doctor’s invalid mother. 258 pages

The Depression Era (1929 to 1939)

Prisoner of Night and Fog
by Anne Blankman
YA F BLANKMAN
In 1930s Munich, the favorite niece of rising political leader Adolph Hitler is torn between duty and love after meeting a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter. 336 pages

A Brief History of Montmaray
by Michelle Cooper
YA F COOPER       
On her 16th birthday in 1936, Sophia begins a diary of life in a fictional island country off the coast of Spain, where she is among the last descendants of an impoverished royal family trying to hold their nation together on the eve of the Second World War. 296 pages

Out of the Dust
by Karen Hesse
YA F HESSE
In a series of poems, Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family’s wheat farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Depression. 227 pages

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
by Mildred D. Taylor
YA F TAYLOR
A black family living in the South during the 1930s is faced with prejudice and discrimination which their children don’t understand. 276 pages

Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935 to 1936

Black Dove, White Raven
by Elizabeth Wein
YA F WEIN
Having moved to Ethiopia to avoid the prejudices of 1930s America, Emilia Menotti, her black adoptive brother Teo, and their mother Rhoda, a stunt pilot, are devoted to their new country even after war with Italy looms, drawing the teens into the conflict. 357 pages

1940s

Keeping Corner
by Kashmira Sheth 
YA F SHETH
In India in the 1940s, 13-year-old Leela’s happy, spoiled childhood ends when her husband since age nine, whom she barely knows, dies, leaving her a widow whose only hope of happiness could come from Mahatma Gandi’s social and political reforms. 281 pages

Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
YA F SEPETYS            
In 1941, 15-year-old Lina, her mother, and brother are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp while she fights for her life, vowing to honor her family and the thousands like hers by burying her story in a jar on Lithuanian soil. 344 pages

Climbing the Stairs
by Padma Venkatraman
YA F VENKATRA              
In India, in 1941, when her father becomes brain-damaged in a non-violent protest march, 15-year-old Vidya and her family are forced to move in with her father’s extended family and become accustomed to a totally different way of life. 247 pages

World War II (1939 to 1945)

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by John Boyne
YA F BOYNE
Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to a place called “Out-With” in 1942, Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence. 215 pages

Code Talker
by Joseph Bruchac
YA F BRUCHAC                    
After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue. 231 pages

The Girl is Murder
by Kathryn Miller Haines
YA F HAINES
In 1942 New York City, 15-year-old Iris grieves for her mother who committed suicide and for the loss of her life of privilege, and secretly helps her father with his detective business since he, having lost a leg at Pearl Harbor, struggles to make ends meet. 342 pages

The Morning Gift
by Eva Ibbotson
YA F IBBOTSON
In pre-WWII Vienna, Ruth Berger becomes the love and inspiration of pianist Heini Radek, but as Hitler’s advances, Ruth must choose between Heini and an Englishman with a tempting offer. 410 pages

Summer of My German Soldier
by Bette Greene
YA F GREENE
When German prisoners of war are brought to her Arkansas town during WWII, Patty Bergen, a Jewish girl, shelters a pacifist German POW who escapes. She must face the consequences of her actions as she risks losing her family and friends over her new friendship. 199 pages

Weedflower
by Cynthia Kadohata
YA F KADOHATA
After Sumiko and her Japanese-American family are relocated from their flower farm in California to an internment camp on in Arizona, she helps her family, becomes friends with a local Indian boy, and tries to hold on to her dream of owning a flower shop. 257 pages

Flygirl
by Sherri L. Smith
YA F SMITH                             
During World War II, a light-skinned African American girl “passes” for white in order to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots. 275 pages

Canada

Uncertain Soldier
by Karen Bass
YA F BASS
It is World War II. Erich, a young German prisoner of war who dislikes Nazism, and Max, the 12-year-old son of German immigrants, become friends when Erich is sent to work at a Canadian logging camp near Max's town. But with a saboteur haunting the logging camp and anti-German feeling running high in town, their friendship puts them both in danger. 287 pages

France

Violins of Autumn
by Amy McAuley
YA F MCAULEY
When World War II breaks out, 17-year-old Betty, an American studying in England, trains as a spy and parachutes into France to join the Resistance, but after meeting a young American pilot she begins to fully realize the brutality of the war and their dangerous position. 336 pages

Code Named Verity
by Elizabeth Wein
YA F WEIN
In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can. 352 pages

Germany

The Boy Who Dared
by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
YA F BARTOLET
In October, 1942, Helmuth Hubener, imprisoned for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets, recalls how he dedicated himself to bring the truth about Hitler and the war to the German people. 202 pages

The Notorious Pagan Jones
by Nina Berry
YA F BERRY
Sent to a juvenile detention facility after driving drunk and killing her family, the once-great Paula Jones is offered release if she will star in a film in Berlin and agree to a court-appointed guardian, who doesn’t seem to be what he claims. 394 pages

Brothers in Valor
by Michael O. Tunnell
YA F TUNNELL
Three German teenagers who are members of the Mormon Church join forces to create a youth resistance movement during WWII, putting their lives at risk. 260 pages

Rose Under Fire
by Elizabeth Wein
YA F WEIN
  Rose Justice is an American transport pilot during World War II. On her way back from a routine flight she is captured and sent to Ravensbrück, a notorious concentration camp. There she meets an unforgettable group of women and vows to tell their stories to the world. 368 pages

Netherlands

Annexed
by Sharon Dogar
YA F DOGAR
Retells the story of Anne Frank from the perspective of Peter, who overcomes an initial loathing for the precocious young diarist before falling in love with her and questioning his faith in light of frightening persecutions. 341 pages

Sweden

A Faraway Island
by Annika Thor
YA F THOR
In 1939 Sweden, two Jewish sisters wait for their parents to flee the Nazis in Austria, but while eight-year-old Nellie settles in quickly, 12-year-old Stephie feels stranded at the end of the world, with a foster mother who is as cold and unforgiving as the island on which they live. 247 pages

The Holocaust

Escaping into the Night
by D. Dina Friedman
YA F FRIEDMAN
Halina narrowly escapes the Polish ghetto and flees to the forest, where she is taken in by Jews trying to survive. 199 pages

Odette’s Secrets
by Maryann Macdonald
YA F MACDONAL
When Odette Meyer's father is sent to a Nazi work camp, her mother sends Odette from Paris to the French countryside where she must pretend to be a Catholic peasant to remain safe, while secrets burn within her. 240 pages

The Other Half of Life
by Kim Albon Whitney
YA F WHITNEY
In 1939, Thomas sails on a German ship bound for Cuba with more than nine hundred German Jews expecting to be granted safe haven in Cuba. 237 pages

The Winter Horses
by Philip Kerr
YA F KERR
Kalinka, a Ukrainian Jewish girl on the run from the Nazis, finds unlikely help from two rare Przewalski horses. 224 pages

For more Holocaust book suggestions, see the separate Young Adult Holocaust booklist.

The Cold War (1945 to 1989)

America

The Loud Silence of Francine Green
by Karen Cushman
YA F CUSHMAN
In 1949, 13-year-old Francine goes to Catholic school in L.A. where she becomes friends with a girl who questions authority and leads Francine to question her own values. 225 pages

Eva Underground
by Dandi Daley Mackall
YA F MACKALL
In 1978, a high school senior is forced by her widowed father to move from their comfortable Chicago suburb to help with an underground education movement in communist Poland. 239 pages

Germany

Freya on the Wall
by T. Degens
YA F DEGENS
Fourteen-year-old Freya, who lives in East Germany, offers her view of the complex events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall. 281 pages

The 20th Century (1950s to 1960s)

Strings Attached
by Judy Blundell
YA F BLUNDELL
When she drops out of school and struggles to start a career on Broadway in the fall of 1950, Kit Corrigan accepts help from an old family friend, a lawyer said to have ties with the mob. 310 pages

What I Saw and How I Lied
by Judy Blundell
YA F BLUNDELL
With her stepfather back from the war and family life returning to normal, teenage Evie finds herself caught in a web of lies whose devastating outcome change her life forever. 284 pages

My Louisiana Sky
by Kimberly Willis Holt
YA F HOLT
Growing up in Saitter, Louisiana, Tiger Ann struggles with her feelings about her stern grandmother, her mentally slow parents, and her good friend and neighbor, Jesse. 200 pages

Racism and Civil Rights (1920s to 1960s)

Mississippi Trial, 1955
by Chris Crowe
YA F CROWE
In Mississippi in 1955, a 16-year-old finds himself at odds with his grandfather over issues surrounding the kidnapping and murder of a 14-year-old African American from Chicago. 231 pages

The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963
by Christopher Paul Curtis
YA F CURTIS
The ordinary routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963. 210 pages

Kira-Kira
by Cynthia Kadohata
YA F KADOHATA
Chronicles the close friendship between two Japanese-American sisters in rural Georgia during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and their despair when one sister becomes terminally ill. 244 pages

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
YA F LEE
Scout’s father defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in a small Alabama town during the 1930s. 296 pages

The Rock and the River
by Kekla Magoon
YA F MAGOON
Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father with his non-violent approach to seeking civil rights and his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party. 290 pages

The Legend of Buddy Bush
by Sheila P. Moses
YA F MOSES            
Pattie Mae dreams of escaping North Carolina and moving to Harlem, but then her uncle is arrested for attempted rape of a white woman and her grandfather is diagnosed with a brain tumor. 216 pages

X
by Ilyasah Shabazz
YA F SHABAZZ
Follows the childhood of the civil rights leader to his imprisonment at age twenty, where he found the faith that would lead him to his path towards activism and justice. 348 pages

Girl in Reverse
by Barbara Stuber
YA F STUBER
Lillian Firestone is Chinese, but the kids in her 1951 Kansas City high school can’t separate her from the North Koreans that America is at war with. Sick of the racism she faces at school and frustrated that her adoptive white family just sees it as ‘teasing,’ Lily begins to search for her birth mother. 319 pages

Vietnam War (1961 to 1975)

Death Coming Up a Hill
by Chris Crowe
YA F CROWE
Douglas Ashe keeps a weekly record of historical and personal events in 1968, the year he turns seventeen, including the escalating war in Vietnam, assassinations, rampant racism, and rioting; his first girlfriend, his parents' separation, and a longed-for sister. 204 pages

Search and Destroy
by Dean Hughes
YA F HUGHES
Rick Ward, undecided about his future and eager to escape his unhappy home life, joins the army and experiences the horrors of the war in Vietnam. 216 pages

Fallen Angels
by Walter Dean Myers
YA F MYERS
Richie Perry enlists in the Army and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam. 309 pages

Okay for Now
by Gary Schmidt
YA F SCHMIDT                   
As a teen who just moved to a new town, with no friends, an abusive father, and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him until he finds an ally in Lil Spicer. 360 pages

1970s to 1980s

Rose Sees Red
by Cecil Castellucci
YA F CASTELLU              
In the 1980s, two ballet dancers--one American, one Russian--spend an unforgettable night in New York City, forming a lasting friendship despite their cultural and political differences. 197 pages

Into the Dangerous World
by Julie Chibbaro
YA F CHIBBARO
After Ror's father commits suicide and burns down their house, she's forced to move from the commune in which she grew up to a homeless shelter in Manhattan. After she meets Trey, the leader of a graffiti crew, she's forced to decide what kind of artist she is, and what she wants. 333 pages

A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk
by Jan Coates
YA F COATES   
Jacob Akech Deng flees his home under the threat of war and tries to survive in a refugee camp. 291 pages

Bog Child
by Siobhan Dowd
YA F DOWD
In 1981, the height of Ireland’s “Troubles,” 18-year-old Fergus is distracted from his upcoming A-level exams by his imprisoned brother’s hunger strike, the stress of being a courier for Sinn Fein, and dreams of a murdered girl whose body he discovered in a bog. 321 pages

Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You
by Hanna Jansen
YA F JANSEN             
Jeanne and her family, who are Tutsis living in Rwanda during a time of civil war, flee their home in hopes of evading Hutu soldiers as political events threaten to overtake them. 342 pages

Three Day Summer
by Tash Sarvenaz
YA F SARVENAZ
During the three days of the music festival known as Woodstock, Michael Michaelson of Somerville, Massachusetts, and Cora Fletcher, a volunteer in the medical tent who lives nearby, share incredible experiences, the greatest of which is meeting each other. 286 pages

Shabanu
by Suzanne Fisher Staples
YA F STAPLES                        
When Shabanu is pledged in marriage to an older man whose money will bring prestige to the family, she must either accept the decision or risk the consequences of defying her father. 240 pages

 

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