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Culture Children's Books

On library shelves

Children’s Books

On library shelves

Trending young adult historical fiction

The Lost Girl of Astor Street

Stephanie Morrill

When her best friend Lydia disappears, 18-year-old Piper Sail sets out to find her. Along the way, the upper-class girl finds herself face-to-face with the underbelly of Chicago. This mystery novel, set in 1924, is more sophisticated than a Nancy Drew mystery but falls short of a real whodunit. The romantic triangle throughout the story at times overshadows the mystery. But with a fresh, exciting setting and the emotional depth provided by a detective who is personally involved in the case, this book is an exciting read. The author explores dark topics, including violence and murder. (Ages 16-19)

When Morning Comes 

Arushi Raina

The lives of four teenagers from different races, cultures, and classes become entangled on the eve of a historic uprising in apartheid South Africa. Zanele is plotting against the government, her friend Thabo is a gang member, Meena is an Indian shopkeeper’s daughter, and Jack lives in the wealthy white suburbs and is preparing to leave for Oxford. Their story is compelling, if at times confusing, as the narrative rapidly switches perspectives. The ending is intentionally unresolved, but the story effectively confronts the tragedy of the Soweto uprising. Caution: Sexual activity between two teen characters. (Ages 17-plus)

The Crystal Ribbon 

Celeste Lim

Lim’s story is set in ancient China but isn’t historical fiction so much as historical magical realism. Ancient Chinese religion—Buddhas, spirits, and ancestor worship—are key aspects to the story of a young girl navigating an unfriendly world. Though the main character is only 11 years old, elements of the story are more appropriate for older ages. When child bride Li Jing ends up at an upscale brothel, she enlists the help of spirits and does what she must to find her way back to safety. It’s an exciting story, but may not be suitable for all families. (Ages 16-19)

Midnight at the Electric 

Jodi Lynn Anderson

Anderson tells the story of three intertwined lives—two in the past and one in the future. In the year 2065, Adri is preparing to leave for the new colony on Mars. But in the meantime, she becomes caught up in the stories of her old aunt and two women, one from Dust Bowl Oklahoma and the other from turn-of-the-century England. Longing for family, for a connection to the past, and for meaning fills this intensely nostalgic story, but ultimately the characters leave the past behind and fixate on the future. The ending is somewhat unsatisfying. Caution: Sexual activity between two characters. (Ages 17-plus)

Handout

Marianne Kaurin (Handout)

Afterword

In her breakout novel, Almost Autumn (Arthur A. Levine, 2017), translated from the original Norwegian by Rosie Hedger, Marianne Kaurin takes an event that has been retold dozens of times and writes a story that feels new and surprising. Ilse Stern and her family are worried about normal, relatable problems—the story opens with her disappointment about being stood up by the boy next door. Her sister is torn between taking the job she really wants and taking over her father’s shop.

But nothing is as peaceful as it seems. The boy next door can’t come because he’s working with the Resistance helping Jews flee the country. The dark undercurrent of German occupation in Norway steadily flows beneath the day-to-day, and it’s only a matter of time before it breaks forth, interrupting the story and their lives. A tragic and deeply moving tale of the horrors of the Holocaust. (Ages 16-19) —R.L.A.