The Covenant. New York: Fawcett Crest Books, 1982.
A historical novel covering over 15,000 years of history in South Africa and which focuses on three principal families who settled in the region throughout the centuries. The family of Nxumalo; the van Doorns, a Dutch family; and the Saltwoods of England. FIC MIK Mikaelsen, Ben. Tree Girl. New York: HarperTempest, 2004.
When, protected by the branches of one of the trees she loves to climb, Gabriela witnesses the destruction of her Mayan village and the murder of nearly all its inhabitants, she vows never to climb again until, after she and her traumatized sister find safety in a Mexican refugee camp, she realizes that only by climbing and facing their fears can she and her sister hope to have a future. FIC MIN Min, Anchee. Becoming Madame Mao. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
The author takes on the identity of Madame Mao, wife of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, presenting her as insecure and in need of love instead of simply vindictive and cruel, and uses historical facts, characters, and documents to tell her story. FIC MIS Mistry, Rohinton. A Fine Balance. New York: Vintage International, 1995.
The government of India in 1975 has just declared a State of Emergency, which, coupled with a housing shortage, compels four people to share an apartment. Their common need leads them to forge a lasting friendship that sees them through the bad times. FIC MOR Morgan, Marlo. Mutant Message Down Under. New York: Perennial, 2004.
Contains a fictional account of an American woman's spiritual quest through the Outback of Australia when a group of Aborigines challenge her to learn firsthand about their culture by joining them on a "walkabout." FIC MOR Mori, Kyoko. Shizuko's Daughter. New York: Fawcett Juniper, 1993.
A beautifully written book about a bitterly painful coming of age. A twelve year old Japanese girl learns how to live with herself as she grows up alone, trying to make sense of a tragedy that made no sense at all (her mother's suicide). FIC MOR Morpurgo, Michael. Waiting for Anya. New York: Puffin, 1997.
Jo and Benjamin devise an elaborate escape plan to save a band of Jewish children in Vichy, France during World War II. FIC NAI Naidoo, Beverly. Burn My Heart. New York: Amistad, 2009.
While the Mau Mau rebellion threatens the British settlers living in Kenya during the 1950s, Mathew and Mugo maintain their friendship, despite their different races, but during these tense times, a single act of betrayal could alter everything. FIC NAI Naipaul, V. S. A Bend in the River. New York: Vintage International, 1989.
A young Indian flees his country to escape the war that has claimed his family and settles in a small town in a newly independent African nation.
FIC NAN Nanji, Shenaaz. Child of Dandelions. Asheville: Front Street, 2008.
In Uganda in 1972, fifteen-year-old Sabine and her family, wealthy citizens of Indian descent, try to preserve their normal life during the ninety days allowed by President Idi Amin for all foreign Indians to leave the country, while soldiers and others terrorize them and people disappear. FIC NOL Nolan, Han. If I Should Die Before I Wake. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1996.
As Hilary, a Neo-Nazi initiate, lies in a coma, she is transported back to Poland at the onset of World War II into the life of a Jewish teenager. FIC NYE Nye, Naomi Shihab. Habibi. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.
When fourteen-year-old Liyanne Abboud, her younger brother, and her parents move from St. Louis to a new home between Jerusalem and the Palestinian village where her father was born, they face many changes and must deal with the tensions between Jews and Palestinians. FIC NYE Nyembezi, C. L. Sibusiso. The Rich Man of Pietermaritzburg. Wiltshire: Aflame Books, 2008.
While the farming village of Nyanyadu faces the ramifications of the approaching apartheid, Mkhwanazi receives a mysterious correspondence from a man in Pietermarizburg, and later meets a man who promises untold riches for the community. FIC OE Oe, Kenzaburo. Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids. New York: Marion Boyars, 1995.
Recounts the exploits of fifteen teenage reformatory boys who are put in a remote mountain village during wartime. FIC ORL Orlev, Uri. Run, Boy, Run: a novel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
Based on the true story of a nine-year-old boy who escapes the Warsaw Ghetto and must survive throughout the war in the Nazi-occupied Polish countryside. FIC PAR Parkinson, Curtis. Domenic's War: a Story of the Battle of Monte Cassino. Plattsburgh: Tundra Books, 2006.
In January 1944, young Domenic and his family are caught in the midst of war and fear for their lives when advancing troops threaten the refugees, children, and families being sheltered in an ancient Benedictine monastery. FIC PAS Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich. Doctor Zhivago. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991.
Classic love story of Dr. Zhivago and Lara during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution.
FIC PAT Paterson, Katherine. The Day of the Pelican. Boston: Sandpiper, 2009.
In 1998 when the Kosovo hostilities escalate, thirteen-year-old Meli's life as an ethnic Albanian, changes forever after her brother escapes his Serbian captors and the entire family flees from one refugee camp to another until they are able to immigrate to America. FIC PAT Paton, Alan. Cry, the Beloved Country. New York: Collier Books, 1987.
Accused of murdering a white man, a young black South African turns to his minister father and a white attorney for help, but the racial problems of the country prevent justice from being served. FIC PAU Paulsen, Gary. The Crossing. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1990.
Fourteen-year-old Manny, a street kid fighting for survival in a Mexican border town, develops a strange friendship with an emotionally disturbed American soldier who decides to help him get across the border. FIC PEE Peet, Mal. Tamar. Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2007.
In England in 1995, fifteen-year-old Tamar, grief-stricken by the puzzling death of her beloved grandfather, slowly begins to uncover the secrets of his life in the Dutch resistance during the last year of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, and the climactic events that forever cast a shadow on his life and that of his family. FIC PER Perkins, Mitali. Secret Keeper. New York: Delacorte Press, 2009.
In 1974 when her father leaves New Delhi, India, to seek a job in New York, Ashi, a tomboy at the advanced age of sixteen, feels thwarted in the home of her extended family in Calcutta where she, her mother, and sister must stay, and when her father dies before he can send for them, they must remain with their relatives and observe the old-fashioned traditions that Ashi hates.
FIC POL Polak, Monique. What World is Left. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 2008.
Anneke Van Raalte and her family are taken by the Nazis to a concentration camp in 1942, and Anneke's father, who is a cartoonist, is coerced into helping a propaganda campaign falsely depicting the camp as an idyllic place for Jews; as time passes, Anneke struggles with her loyalty to her family and her sense of right and wrong. FIC PRE Pressler, Mirjam. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. Asheville: Front Street, 2007.
Johanna, a German girl, learns on a trip to Israel that her family's successful clothing store was originally owned by a Jewish family and was acquired by her grandfather through the anti-Semitic laws of the Nazi regime. FIC PRE Preus, Margi.Heart of a Samurai: Based on the True Story of Nakahama Manjiro. New York: Amulet Books, 2010.
In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a terrible shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, fourteen-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States. FIC QAM Qamar, Amjed. Beneath My Mother's Feet. New York: Atheneum, 2008.
When her father is injured, fourteen-year-old Nazia is pulled away from school, her friends, and her preparations for an arranged marriage, to help her mother clean houses in a wealthy part of Karachi, Pakistan, where she finally rebels against the destiny that is planned for her. FIC RAG Ragen, Naomi. The Covenant. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004.
Jonathan Margulies and daughter Ilana are kidnapped by Hamas leading Jonathan's wife Elise to call her grandmother in Brooklyn; and she enlists the help of three other Auschwitz survivors in a desperate attempt to find the captives before they are killed. FIC REM Remarque, Erich Maria. All Quiet on the Western Front. New York: Ballantine, 1982.
Depicts the experiences of a group of young German soldiers fighting and suffering during the last days of World War I. FIC RIO Riordan, James. The Sniper. London: Frances Lincoln, 2009.
Tania, recruited as a teen in 1942 by Vasily Zaitsev to seek out and shoot German officers, finds it difficult to kill until she learns the Nazis murdered her beloved grandparents, and her skill as a sniper leads to her being put in charge of a handpicked unit whose mission is to seize Field Marshall Paulus, commander-in-chief of the German army. FIC ROY Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things. New York: HarperPerennial, 1998.
On a December day in 1969 twins Rahel and Estha, born to a wealthy family living in the province of Kerala, India, find their lives changed after the death of their English cousin who was visiting for the holidays. FIC RUB Ruby, Lois. Shanghai Shadows. New York: Holiday House, 2006.
From 1939 to 1945, a Jewish family struggles to survive in occupied China; young Ilse by remaining optimistic, her older brother by joining a resistance movement, her mother by maintaining connections to the past, and her father by playing the violin that had been his livelihood. FIC RUS Rushdie, Salman. Midnight's Children. New York: Penguin Books, 1991.
The story of Saleem Sinal, born precisely at midnight, August 15, 1947, the moment India became independent. Saleem's life parallels the history of his nation. FIC SAC Sacks, Margaret. Beyond Safe Boundaries. New York: Lodestar Books, 1989.
Elizabeth comes of age in 1960s South Africa as her older sister joins a secret group opposed to the country's racial policies. FIC SAY Say, Allen. The Ink-Keeper’s Apprentice. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.
A fourteen-year-old boy lives on his own in Tokyo and becomes apprenticed to a famous Japanese cartoonist.
FIC SCH Schlink Bernard. The Reader. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.
Translation of a German novel about the erotic awakening of fifteen-year-old Michael Berg who engages in a secret affair with a mysterious older woman.
FIC SCH Schmidt, C. A. Useful Fools. New York: Dutton Books, 2007.
A fifteen-year-old Peruvian boy, whose mother runs a clinic for poor village children, becomes caught up in the war after Senderistas bomb the clinic, killing his mother and throwing his family into turmoil. FIC SED Sedgwick, Marcus. The Foreshadowing. New York: Laurel-Leaf, 2008.
Having always been able to know when someone is going to die, Alexandra poses as a nurse to go to France during World War I to locate her brother and to try to save him from the fate she has foreseen for him. FIC SEE See, Lisa. Dragon Bones: a novel. New York: Ballantine, 2004.
The discovery of the body of an American archaeologist in the Yangzi River and the theft of some ancient dragon bones mark the start of an ever-spiraling chain of scandal, murder, and tragedy for Liu Hulan, a tough inspector for China's Ministry of Public Security. FIC SEE See, Lisa. Dreams of Joy: a novel. New York: Random House, 2011.
Pearl must confront her past and the challenges of the present when she sets out to save her nineteen-year-old daughter Joy, who has run away to Shanghai to find her birth father, artist Z.G. Li, and become caught up in the New Society of Red China in 1957. FIC SEE See, Lisa. Shanghai Girls. New York: Random House, 2009.
Sisters Pearl and May Chin are forced into marriages to Chinese men living in America after their father gambles away his wealth; but life in American proves more difficult than they expected. FIC SEL Selvadurai, Shyam. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2005.
In 1980 Sri Lanka, fourteen-year-old Amrith's uneventful summer, filled with typing lessons and hopes of a part in his school's production of "Othello," is turned upside down when he falls in love with a boy. FIC SEM Sembene, Ousmane. God's Bits of Wood. New York: Anchor Books, 1970.
God's Bits of Wood does more than recount a fictional version of the Sengalese workers who struggled for unionization in the late 1940's. It also accurately describes the French West African institutional setting of that period and vividly conveys glimpses of native culture as it existed beneath the yoke of colonization.
FIC SEP Sepetys, Ruta. Between Shades of Gray. New York: Philomel Books, 2011.
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.
Eight-year-old Lenny witnesses the turmoil among various religious groups in India during the 1940s. FIC SIM Simon, Scott. Pretty Birds: a novel. New York: Random House, 2005.
The violence and terror of ethnic cleansing against Muslims forces high schooler Irena Zaric and her family to flee Sarajevo in search of safety across the river, and she comes into even closer contact with war when a former assistant principal employs her as a sniper. FIC SKR Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk. Daughter of War: a Novel. Markham: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008.
Marta, a young Armenian refugee, survives the Armenian genocide in Turkey during World War I, and disguises herself as a Muslim in order to locate her betrothed and her sister, who were sold into slavery. FIC SKR Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk. Nobody's Child. Toronto: Boardwalk Books, 2003.
An historical fiction set during the Armenian Genocide tells a story of Mariam and her siblings who are deported from Turkey, their ordeals, and desperate attempts to be reunited with one another. FIC SOL Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isaevich. August 1914. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989.
A fictional account of the outbreak of the First World War and the Russian offensive into East Prussia and defeat at Tannenberg. FIC SOL Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isaevich. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. New York: Signet, 1993.
Recounts the experiences of Shukhov, a prisoner at a Soviet work camp in Siberia, as he struggles for survival.
Twelve-year-old Patrick Condon assumes his brother John's identity and runs away to join the army in order to get away from his boring life in Ireland; however, as World War I erupts, the boy experiences much more than he expected. FIC STA Staples, Suzanne Fisher. Haveli. New York: Dell, 2002.
Having relented to the ways of her people in Pakistan and married the rich older man to whom she was pledged against her will, Shabanu is now the victim of his family's blood feud and the malice of his other wives. FIC STA Staples, Suzanne Fisher. The House of Djinn. New York: Frances Foster Books, 2008.
An unexpected death brings Shabanu's daughter, Mumtaz, and nephew, Jameel, both aged fifteen, to the forefront of an attempt to modernize Pakistan, but the teens must both sacrifice their own dreams if they are to meet family and tribal expectations. FIC STA Staples, Suzanne Fisher. Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind. New York: Knopf, 1997.
When eleven-year-old Shabanu, the daughter of a nomad in the Cholistan Desert of present-day Pakistan, is pledged in marriage to an older man whose money will bring prestige to the family, she must either accept the decision, as is the custom, or risk the consequences of defying her father's wishes. FIC STA Staples, Suzanne Fisher. Shiva’s Fire. New York: HarperTrophy, 2000.
A young Hindu girl from India, Parvati, who is known for the extraordinary events that occur when she dances, leaves her family to train in classical Indian dance with a great master, but her commitment to a program of dance, study, and devotion falters when she meets a gentle-eyed boy. FIC STE Steinbeck, John. The Moon is Down. New York: Penguin Books, 1995.
A beautiful, provincial Norwegian town is invaded by German soldiers. An act of brutality begins an uncontrollable, unalterable chain of events. FIC STR Stratton, Allan. Chanda's Secrets. Toronto: Annick Press, 2004.
Chandra Kabelo, a sixteen-year-old in a small South African town, faces down shame and stigma in her efforts to help friends and family members who are dying of AIDS. FIC STR Stratton, Allan. Chanda’s Wars. New York: HarperTeen, 2008.
Chandra Kabelo, a teenaged African girl, must save her younger siblings after they are kidnapped and forced to serve as child soldiers in General Mandiki's rebel army. FIC TAY Taylor, Theodore. The Bomb. Orlando: Harcourt, 2007.
In 1944, when the Americans liberate Bikini Atoll from the Japanese, fourteen-year-old Sorry Rinamu does not realize that in two years he will lead a desperate effort to save his island home from a much more deadly threat. FIC TAY Taylor, Theodore. The Cay. New York: Dell Yearling, 2002.
Philip, an adolescent white boy who is blinded in a torpedo attack at sea during World War II, acquires a new type of vision, courage, and love when he is stranded on a tiny Caribbean island with Timothy, a kind, elderly black man. FIC TAY Taylor, Theodore. Timothy of the Cay. Orlando: Harcourt, 2007.
Having survived being blinded and shipwrecked on a tiny Caribbean island with the old black man Timothy, twelve-year-old white Phillip is rescued and hopes to regain his sight with an operation. Alternate chapters follow the life of Timothy from his days as a young cabin boy. FIC TOL Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenin. London: Penguin, 1978.
In nineteenth-century Russia, the wife of an important government official loses her family and social status when she chooses the love of Count Vronsky over a passionless marriage. FIC TRU Trueman, Terry. Hurricane. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.
A fictional account of one of the worst storms to hit the Caribbean--Hurricane Mitch in 1998--told from the perspective of a thirteen-year-old boy living in a small village in Honduras.
FIC URI Uris, Leon. Exodus. New York: Bantam, 1986.
The founding of the new nation of Israel is vividly portrayed in this novel about an American nurse and a young Israeli freedom fighter. FIC VAN Van der Vyver, Marita. Childish Things. New York: Dutton, 1996.
A girl's tale of growing up in South Africa in the 1970s. The protagonist is Mart Vermaak, a 16-year-old Afrikaner whose adolescence is played out against the background of apartheid, the black liberation struggle and the Angolan War which her brother is fighting. FIC VEC Veciana-Suarez, Ana. Flight to Freedom. New York: Orchard Books, 2002.
Writing in the diary which her father gave her, thirteen-year-old Yara describes life with her family in Havana, Cuba, in 1967 as well as her experiences in Miami, Florida, after immigrating there to be reunited with some relatives while leaving others behind. FIC VEN Venkatraman, Padma. Climbing the Stairs. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008.
In India, in 1941, when her father becomes brain-damaged in a non-violent protest march, fifteen-year-old Vidya and her family are forced to move in with her father's extended family and become accustomed to a totally different way of life. FIC WAL Walker, Alice. By the Light of My Father's Smile: a novel. New York: Random House, 1998.
Susannah and her family move to the Sierras in Mexico, and while they are there, their lives are forever changed by the Mundo people who live there. FIC WAT Watkins, Yoko Kawashima. So Far from the Bamboo Grove. New York: Beech Tree Books, 1994.
A fictionalized autobiography in which eleven-year-old Yoko escapes from Korea to Japan with her mother and sister at the end of World War II. FIC WEY Weyn, Suzanne. Distant Waves: a novel of the Titanic. New York: Scholastic Press, 2009.
In the early twentieth century, four sisters and their widowed mother, a famed spiritualist, travel from New York to London, and as the Titanic conveys them and their acquaintances, journalist W.T. Stead, scientist Nikola Tesla, and industrialist John Jacob Astor, home, Tesla's inventions will either doom or save them all. FIC WHE Whelan, Gloria. The Disappeared. New York: Dial, 2008.
Teenaged Silvia tries to save her brother, Eduardo, after he is captured by the military government in 1970s Argentina. FIC WHE Whelan, Gloria. Homeless Bird. New York: HarperTrophy, 2001.
When thirteen-year-old Koly enters into an ill-fated arranged marriage, she must either suffer a destiny dictated by India's tradition or find the courage to oppose it. FIC WHI Whitney, Kim Ablon. The Other Half of Life: a novel based on the True Story of the MS St. Louis. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
Fifteen-year-old Thomas sets sail on a German ship bound for Cuba in 1939 along with more than nine hundred German Jews expecting to be granted safe haven on the island, but he discovers that although the passengers have landing permits, they may not be allowed to enter the country. FIC WIE Wiesel, Elie. Dawn. New York: Bantam, 1982.
An eighteen-year-old terrorist spends a night waiting to kill an English officer in Palestine as a reprisal for Britain's execution of a Jewish prisoner. FIC WIS Wiseman, Eva. Puppet: a novel. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2009.
A fictionalized account of the last-recorded "blood libel" trial in Europe, which describes the experiences of Morris Scharf, a Jewish boy who was forced to testify against his community--including his own father--in support of a stereotype that Jews murder Christian children for their blood. FIC WOL Wolf, Allan. The Watch that ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic. Somerville: Candlewick Press, 2011.
Recreates the 1912 sinking of the Titanic as observed by millionaire John Jacob Astor, a beautiful young Lebanese refugee finding first love, "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Captain Smith, and others including the iceberg itself. FIC WUL Wulffson, Don L. Soldier X. New York: Viking, 2001.
In 1943 sixteen-year-old Erik experiences the horrors of war when he is drafted into the German army and sent to fight on the Russian front. FIC YAN Yang, Belle. Baba: a Return to China Upon My Father's Shoulders. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1996.
Baba wonderfully evokes the sights, sounds and emotions of the lost childhood of the author's father, who grew up in a time of social and political upheaval in China. FIC ZUS Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. New York: Knopf, 2006.
Trying 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. SC AKP Akpan, Uwem. Say You're One of Them. New York: Little, Brown and Co, 2008.
A collection of short stories by Uwem Akpan that celebrate the resilience and wisdom of children in third world countries. SC FRE Free?: Stories about Human Rights. Somerville: Candlewick Press, 2010.
An anthology of fourteen stories by young adult authors from around the world, on such themes as asylum, law, education, and faith, compiled in honor of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. SC OTH Other Voices, Other Vistas: Short Stories from Africa, China, India, Japan, and Latin America. New York: Signet Classic, 2002.
Presents twenty-five contemporary stories by authors from countries and cultures around the world, including selections by Chinua Achebe, Isabel Allende, Wang Anyi, and others. SC SHA Shattered: Stories of Children and War. New York: Knopf, 2002.
Presents twelve short stories about the experiences of young children and teenagers in war, showing a variety of perspectives, and provides factual notes on each conflict dramatized. SC SOM Somehow Tenderness Survives: Stories of Southern Africa. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.
A collection of ten short stories and autobiographical accounts by authors of various races expose the conditions of racism in South Africa.