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Spotlight on Historical Novels: WWII in YA Fiction

George Santayana said: ”Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” While WWII and the Holocaust were devestating events, the period of history is ripe with stories of survival, resistance, and perseverance in the face of tragedy. Our young adult fiction collection has several excellent novels that tell these stories so that they will never be forgotten. Whether you like graphic novels, novels in verse, stories set in America or Europe, there’s a book to capture your interest.

Resistance Book 1 by by Carla Jablonski

resistance book 1 book cover imagePaul and Marie’s bucolic French town is almost untouched by the ravages of WWII. When the Jewish parents of their friend Henri disappear, and Henri goes into hiding, Paul and Marie realize they must take a stand.




The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

the book thief cover imageTrying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel–a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.




Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

flygirl book cover imageDuring World War II, a light-skinned African American girl “passes” for white in order to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots.




Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys 

In 1941, fifteen-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. Based on the author’s family, includes a historical note.



Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

code name verity cover image

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.



The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

In 1936 Berlin, fourteen-year-old Karl Stern, considered Jewish despite a non-religious upbringing, learns to box from the legendary Max Schmeling while struggling with the realities of the Holocaust.




T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte

t4 book cover imageWhen the Nazi party takes control of Germany, thirteen-year-old Paula, who is deaf, finds her world-as-she-knows-it turned upside down, as she is taken into hiding to protect her from the new law nicknamed T4.




If you like historical fiction but WWII isn’t your favorite time period, be on the lookout for future book lists featuring other eras!

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