From the publisher: "Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years. But now Joseph Bruchac brings their stories to life for young adults through the riveting fictional tale of Ned Begay, a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy who becomes a code talker. His grueling journey is eye-opening and inspiring. This deeply affecting novel honors all of those young men, like Ned, who dared to serve, and it honors the culture and language of the Navajo Indians. An ALA Best Book for Young Adults"
- by Ruta Sepetys
This is a terrific YA novel equally beloved by tweens, teens, and grown-ups. My daughter pulled this down from our family bookshelves because her teacher was raving about it. From the publisher: "For readers of All the Light We Cannot See, bestselling author Ruta Sepetys returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war's most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies."
- by Tirzah Price
From the publisher: "Perfect for fans of the Lady Janies and Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first book in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries series is a clever retelling of Pride and Prejudice that reimagines the iconic settings, characters, and romances in a thrilling and high-stakes whodunit. When a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet seizes the opportunity to prove herself, despite the interference of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates. Convinced the authorities have imprisoned the wrong person, Lizzie vows to solve the murder on her own. But as the case—and her feelings for Darcy—become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed."
The Princess Bride meets The Other Boleyn Girl in this quirky spin on the true story of Lady Jane Grey. Sixteen-year-old King Edward has arranged a marriage for Jane in order to secure his line to the throne. He doesn’t have much interest in ruling, and she doesn’t have much interest in marriage. Duty is the least of their problems because, well...Jane’s betrothed turns into a horse every night. Note: this sassy book is especially great on audio.
This well-crafted YA release smoothly bridges the divide between present-day Tulsa, Oklahoma and the little-known race riots that occurred there during two terrifying days in 1921. During renovations of seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase's historic family home, a skeleton is unearthed in the backyard. The police don't care who the bones belong to, but Rowan sure does. Unbeknownst to her, this skeleton links Rowan with another teen, Will Tillman, who lived in Tulsa nearly a hundred years ago. Latham flips back and forth in time, between two teens facing their own kinds of crossroads, to give her readers a page-turning history/mystery mash-up, as her young protagonists wrestle through issues of family, friendship, identity, and belonging. I read this in an afternoon—I couldn't put it down. Publication date: February 21.
- by Julie Berry
This fun novel—and book club favorite—combines three unexpected elements to great effect: World War I, a love story, and Greek mythology. It begins with Aphrodite and Ares walking into a swanky Manhattan hotel during WWII, and soon enough Aphrodite's husband Hephaestus challenges her to show him what love really looks like. She obliges, and takes the reader back in time to meet four young lovers in 1917 Britain, showing her fellow gods how each couple fell in love, and what they mean to each other. It sounds unlikely but the interesting narrative structure totally works.
From the publisher: "Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn't stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her. When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots—and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won't accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of 'passing,' of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one's racial heritage, denying one's family, denying one's self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be."
- by Stacey Lee
Set in gilded age Atlanta, this is about seventeen-year old Jo who works as a lady’s maid for the grumpy, privileged daughter of the house. Meanwhile she lives with her adopted grandfather figure in a secret basement under the print shop of a family newspaper. This is a relic from the underground railroad and the family above does not know that it’s there. Jo eavesdrops on them through the vent and knows, because she can listen in, that the paper is not doing well financially. They need to boost circulation if they’re going to stay in business. She has the idea that will let her vent her 17-year old feelings on the world and also maybe get some new subscribers for this magazine: Jo decides she’s going to write a column called Dear Miss Sweetie, anonymously, answering questions and addressing contemporary topics affecting both women and people of color in Atlanta in the 1890s. Jo is sassy and snarky and smart, and so pretty soon the talk of the town among the fussy Atlanta society ladies is "who is this brilliant young girl writing a funny column?"
- by Meg Medina
From the publisher: "While violence runs rampant throughout New York, a teenage girl faces danger within her own home in Meg Medina's riveting coming-of-age novel. Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. And while there is a cute new guy who started working with her at the deli, is dating even worth the risk when the killer likes picking off couples who stay out too late? Award-winning author Meg Medina transports us to a time when New York seemed balanced on a knife-edge, with tempers and temperatures running high, to share the story of a young woman who discovers that the greatest dangers are often closer than we like to admit — and the hardest to accept."
- by Cindy Anstey
From the publisher: "In this hilarious homage to Jane Austen, a lady with a penchant for trouble finds a handsome spy much more than merely tolerable. Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She's much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she's determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish her research. Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana's traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself. Full of humor and English Regency Period charm, and starring a whip-smart strong female heroine, this is a young adult novel with the perfect mix of romance, action, and adventure."
- by Tonya Bolden
From the publisher: "From acclaimed author Tonya Bolden comes the story of a teen girl becoming a woman on her own terms against the backdrop of widespread social change in the early 1900s. Savannah Riddle is lucky. As a daughter of an upper class African American family in Washington D.C., she attends one of the most rigorous public schools in the nation--black or white--and has her pick among the young men in her set. But lately the structure of her society--the fancy parties, the Sunday teas, the pretentious men, and shallow young women--has started to suffocate her. Then Savannah meets Lloyd, a young West Indian man from the working class who opens Savannah's eyes to how the other half lives. Inspired to fight for change, Savannah starts attending suffragist lectures and socialist meetings, finding herself drawn more and more to Lloyd's world. Set against the backdrop of the press for women's rights, the Red Summer, and anarchist bombings, Saving Savannah is the story of a girl and the risks she must take to be the change in a world on the brink of dramatic transformation."
I enjoyed this book after MMD team member Leigh cited it as a favorite of 2020. Here's what she had to say: "This story utterly wrecked me and might be my all-time favorite YA novel. It explores friendship, first love, queerness, AIDS, grief, Madonna, and more. Part of the enjoyment was that it's set in 1989-1990, when I was nine or ten years old. Judy, Art, and Reza are seventeen and their experiences and changing relationships gave me a new way to relive that time, particularly reflecting on what life was like for the LGBTQ+ community and those coming out in the wake of AIDS. While it’s about grief and loss, it’s also a celebration of the queer community and found family."
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Marketed as YA, but a good read for all. From Booklist Online: "If you pick up this book, it will be some time before you put your dog-eared, tear-stained copy back down. Wein succeeds on three fronts: historical verisimilitude, gut-wrenching mystery, and a first-person voice of such confidence and flair that the protagonist might become a classic character. . . . Both crushingly sad and hugely inspirational, this plausible, unsentimental novel will thoroughly move even the most cynical of readers."