History has always interested me and I like reading fiction; therefore, historical fiction is one of my favorite genres! The following titles are ones I learned from and really enjoyed.
A Long Walk to Water tells two stories: one based on the true life events of a determined boy, Salva and a fictional story of a young girl, Nya. Salva endures many hardships as he is caught in the middle of the second Sudanese Civil War while Nya faces her own hardships as she is assigned the daily task of walking many miles to collect water for her family. Every time I read a book such as this, I am reminded how blessed I am to live in a free country with many conveniences I often take for granted. I cannot imagine going through some of the situations Salva experienced, but as his uncle told him, “One step at a time, one day at a time, just today, just this day to get through.” This book is a wonderful lesson about hope and perseverance.
A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen
This was the first historical fiction I read on the Berlin Wall and I must say Jennifer Nielsen does a fantastic job with drawing the readers into this specific time in history. The story is told by Gerta, who struggles under the oppressiveness of the GDR while attempting to dig a tunnel to the other side with hopes to unite her divided family. Gerta’s voice is strong and mature for a 12 year old girl as her circumstances force her to grow up before her time. Her courage and will to be free are admirable while her struggle to forgive and understand the world’s cruelties is plausible. The provided historical pictures and map prior to the story prepared me for the somber yet hopeful mood of the book and many of the quotes at each chapter’s beginning stayed with me.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Two words describe this book: beautiful and unforgettable. Lina's emotional and physical journey captures your attention from page one when she and her family are captured by the Soviets and are forced to be slaves. Sepetys paints a beautiful canvas of love, anger, pain, compassion, and hope all in one story that readers will never forget.
Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose
This is my second verse novel and my third Caroline Starr Rose book. Blue Birds is written as movingly as May B. with the seriousness of life interwoven with life’s beauty. It is based in 1587 when the Lost Colony land on Roanoke. Despite the division between the English and Native Americans, two lonely girls form a forbidden friendship. The ending was upsetting, yet I understand why it ended that way. Through Alis and Kimi's actions and thoughts, readers are reminded of how family, trust, and sacrifice are important.
Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set in Germany during World War II, this story is about a girl who loves books and it is narrated by an unlikely character – Death. While that may sound depressing, it is to a certain extent but the story is also full of friendship, love, the beauty of music, art, and of course books. All of these elements are portrayed in masterful metaphors and dynamic dialogue, making Book Thief a worthwhile read that reminds readers how life should be embraced and lived to the fullest.