By Mindy Rhiger, Youth Services Librarian for Edina Library
1. Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin
This Newbery Honor winning book, follows ten-year-old Sasha as he confronts his own values after his father is arrested in the Stalinist Soviet Union. While Sasha’s narration is realistically innocent for his age, thoughtful readers will pick up on the serious and heartbreaking nature of the events in the story.
2. Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
Twelve-year-old Nisha’s world is torn apart during the Partition of India when her Hindu family is no longer safe in the town where she grew up. They are forced to flee, and Nisha confronts questions about identity and belonging in diary entries addressed to her late mother. This is a beautifully written, nuanced story of family and survival that is a must-read for readers of all ages.
3. War That Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
When Ada and her bother are evacuated from London during World War II, they find a very different life awaiting them in the countryside. Away from their abusive mother, they have an opportunity to grow and discover happiness for the first time even as the war goes on. A moving story that is sure to become a classic.
4. Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden
In alternating chapters, Caleb and Mariah tell the story of Sherman’s March to the Sea in 1864 from their perspectives as a free black man and recently emancipated black woman respectively. This compelling and well researched story, based on real events, is tragic and may be difficult for sensitive readers with discussion of the horrors of slavery and the heartbreaking historically accurate tragedy at the end of the book.
5. Audacity by Melanie Crowder
This historical novel-in-verse fictionalizes the life of Labor activist Clara Lemlich. When Clara arrives in New York City in 1903 and finds work in a factory, she is appalled at the working conditions, and she isn’t afraid to do something about it. The historical notes, including interviews with Clara’s family members, make this a great resource as well as a powerful story about a strong woman.