Monday, August 13, 2012

A Look at Historical Fiction in the YA World

So, although I've been venturing out a bit and testing the waters in some contemporary YA fiction, I feel most at home and most captivated in the worlds created within historical fiction novels.  After posting this past week about my reading lists for my classes this fall here, I couldn't help but think about the fact that when talking about Young Adult fiction, historical fiction usually gets pushed off the radar.  I'm taking a class this fall on Literature for Adolescents (aka YA fiction) and there is not one historical fiction book on the list.  I'm currently reading parts of a textbook on the subject and yet again there are very few historical fiction books.  And it seems like usually the only historical fiction book mentioned in terms of YA books is, The Book Thief, which I LOVE but why aren't there others?

Recently, Ruta Sepetys' novel Between Shades of Grey brought some wonderful historical fiction work into the YA world which was exciting.  So perhaps this will start a trend in historical fiction much like the dystopian trend and the unfortunate vampire trend...?

However, when most people think of YA novels it seems to be predominantly those contemporary fiction novels like Judy Blume's work or more recently John Green's novels.

Why is this so?  Do you have any ideas?

Here are some of the Historical Fiction YA (ok so Breaking Stalin's Nose, The Impossible Journey, and Dovekeepers aren't YA, but they were great ones) books I've read recently:

Historical Fiction YA books I remembering enjoying a while ago:


Ones I've been wanting to read or that are coming out soon, but mostly ones I haven't had a chance to read (Is "A Great and Terrible Beauty" a good book?  I've seen it alot but never read it...) :

These last two are really intriguing me...they mix fairy tale retellings with the Holocaust novel and the first one is by Jane Yolen.  Maybe I'll have to bump these to the top of my list since I'm taking a class on Fairy Tales and I've always been swept up and taken with novels about the Holocaust.

Well, now after finishing this post I feel like there are a lot of historical fiction novels that I haven't read after compiling my "want to read" list that I've had specifically for historical fiction and after finding some new ones when looking up the ones I already had!  However, I still stick with my original thought from the top of this post that there seem to be fewer Historical fiction novels in the YA world and more importantly that they are often looked over when talking about Young Adult work.

Do any of you have any great historical fiction recommendations??


  1. Good question. For some reason when I'm craving Historical Fiction, I enjoy Christian HF.

    1. I've had one other friend recommend some titles from the Christian (specifically Catholic) Historical fiction that sound really interesting, so maybe I'll check into those at some point :) Thanks!

  2. Wow, this is such a fantastic list of historical fiction. Thank you for sharing it (and it looks so pretty!) I want to read so many of these. It's funny, I do think historical fiction gets overshadowed but I also think it's a genre that is well-respected, often-elevated, perhaps taken more seriously for awards and by teachers and librarians in schools. It's just a stereotype I have in my head- historical fiction is the serious, 'real' literature.

    1. Thanks Melissa!! (and thanks for coming over to my blog!) I know they look so good, there are just so many to read!

      And I completely agree with you, I hadn't thought about it like that, I think perhaps its true that teachers and librarians esteem them more, and now I'm curious to see how they've faired with awards in the past, especially with the Printz, because from what I've seen it's just The Book Thief and A Northern Light (which I've yet to read!). I remember also being shocked in my first children's lit class where no one else in a class of almost 30 had heard of the Dear America or the Royal Diaries series and it made me think maybe not as many people are drawn to historical fiction which is interesting... But now I'm just rambling :)

  3. I've read Briar Rose about 3 times over the years and love revisiting that one. A beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a Holocaust setting. I read Code Name Verity recently and it was amazing, high recommendation on that one.

    I would also recommend Julie Hearn's books -Ivy, and Hazel.

    1. Thanks so much for the recommendation, I have to go and check that out now!

      I'm excited to hear that you love Briar Rose, I just got it from the library and can't wait to start it, I'm just so intrigued by the idea! And yes Code Name Verity is also on my to read as soon as possible list, I've heard so many good things about it!

      Thanks again!

  4. I hope you will join me in the Historical Reading Challenge for 2013! Just having set a goal for myself to read 50 books this year, I know I read a lot more than I would have otherwise. I've now read 62 and will probably read at least 4 more by the end of the year. I'm really enjoying it!

    As far as your list, some of the images aren't coming through for me. :-( Not sure if it is an issue with my computer or what. But, I can see a lot! I'm particularly wondering what the last one about the Holocaust is.. I can see the one right before it.

    Of the ones I could see, I've read only 3: Between Shades of Grey (awesome!), Breaking Stalin's Nose (which I really enjoyed, too) & The Impossible Journey (& I recommend all of her books! I've read maybe 7 or 8!)

    I tried Book Thief and didn't get past the first few pages. Maybe I'll give it another try.

    I appreciate your list and will start plowing through some of these!

    Also, are you on GoodReads? I just joined maybe 2 months ago and it's a GREAT place for me to keep a list of books I'm wanting to read. And, I wondered around my bookshelves and a book store and tried to remembered 'all' of the books I've read since I was out of high school. That's a long time! ;-) Anyway, I love having the record there and looking back & seeing which authors I've enjoyed, etc.

    Guess that's it for now! Glad to hear from you!

    1. Hm...that's annoying, they are fine on mine! Which are you wondering about? Are you talking about the one right after Jane Yolen's Briar Rose? That one is called The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival by Louise Murphy, I haven't read it yet, but it looks incredible! If that's not the one you were talking about let me know :)

      Those three are AMAZING, some of my favorite books! And with The Book Thief, I really, really, highly recommend doing the audiobook, it's read by Allan Corduner, and I think it might possibly be the best audiobook I've listened too, and that's saying alot because I've listened to alot of audiobooks that I really love!

      And I am on GoodReads... but I don't use it very much. I haven't completely gotten a grasp on it yet, I used to use their widget to post on my blog what I was reading but it started becoming a bit of a hassle to up keep, but I do like the list keeping, although I've mostly just been doing that directly on my blog now :) But I may have to give it another chance soon :)

      Talk to you soon!