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We tried to come up with some picks we thought would be good for the historical fiction reluctant out there!
For the young adult reader who read a lot of contemporary YA:
1. Brazen by Katherine Longshore: What I love about this book is that it's such a good introduction to historical fiction to people who think historical fiction is just going to be history class all over again. There is drama that could rival anything on TV (which a lot of it REALLY DID HAPPEN in this book) and romance and it's just a perfect mix of fun and history. I was thoroughly immersed in King Henry's court and this time period...very easy to get lost in!
For the young adult reader who loves paranormal YA:
2. Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard: This is a historical paranormal novel and, while it isn't straight historical fiction, I think it is the perfect book to get your toes wet and see how great historical settings can be if you typically read paranormal and think you'd be bored by a historical setting.
For the young adult or adult reader who wants something a little more serious:
3. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: This is one of my favorite historical novels of all time. It was so heartbreaking and hard to read but I just NEEDED to hear this story.
For the reader who typically reads women's fiction or contemporary adult fiction:
4. Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum: This was such a great mother/daughter story! It's alternating between the WWII setting and the contemporary setting so it's a great way to get into historical fiction if you aren't sure of it!
For the middle school student who likes realistic fiction:
5. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko, and its sequels: At its heart, this is a story about a boy and his new home, meeting new friends and dealing with a slightly atypical family (his sister is on the autism spectrum, but this book takes place before doctors knew exactly what this was). Lots of kids can identify with Moose, the narrator, as his problems (girls, friends, family) are problems kids still deal with today. Oh, and also, Moose lives on Alcatraz Island back when the families of staff were able to do so. And there is the issue of Al Capone, one of the most famous gangsters of all time...
For anyone interested in seldom-told true stories and feeling nostalgic for Sesame Street:
6. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano: This one takes place in the '60s, in Spanish Harlem, right around the time of a civil rights revolution in the title character's Puerto Rican neighborhood. It's simply written and a fast read, but tells a story about a piece of history rarely discussed in classrooms or pop culture. Oh, and the Sesame Street part? You might know Sonia Manzano better as Maria from that show.
For the science fiction/fantasy fan:
7. The Soulless series by Gail Carriger: Okay, so not technically historical fiction, but this steampunk series is a way to ease into Victorian London society. Etiquette and proper behavior are extremely important in this society, but there are also vampires, werewolves, and lots of fun steam-powered technology. Plus, it's wickedly funny. And romance fans will be happy too.
For the science fiction fan who DOESN'T want romance:
8. The W.A.R.P. series by Eoin Colfer: The author of the Artemis Fowl series brings us another action-packed adventure series, but instead of fairies, we have time travel. Again, not technically historical fiction, but Riley is from Victorian London, and he and Chevy go back into Victorian London, so I'm going to count it anyway.
For the reader looking for non-European history books:
9. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See: I had this on my to read list for years and years before I picked it up at a going out of business sale for Borders (the pain is still raw). This book was great! I was transported back to not that too far gone China, into the lives of two best friends as they grew from girls to women. It's a wonderful look at Chinese culture especially surrounding women while also being the heart-wrenching story of just two friends.
For the reader looking for a book with a balance of history and a little bit of romance:
10. An Affair with Mr Kennedy by Jillian Stone: First off, no not that Mr. Kennedy. This is set in Victorian London among the middle working class. It stars a man from the newishly formed Scotland Yard and a lady who is looking for adventure. I call this romance out of the many I've read because I distinctly remember taking notes the whole first chapter on things I wanted to look up for historical accuracy, and I was pretty much wrong about all the things I had question. Ms Stone did her due diligence. This is a mystery romance with a balance between both, but I thought the historical setting really transported me there, too.
Which books would you recommend to historical fiction newbies?