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Historical Fiction Book Reviews
We Are Not Free by Traci Chee
“We Are Not Free centers around the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII. It follows 14 teenagers as they struggle to come to terms with being imprisoned without having committed any crime. Although there are sections of this book that are more lighthearted, this book ultimately shows off some of the worst aspects of humanity while still managing to show a light at the end of the tunnel. Each of the teens face struggles – some inherently relatable, others not—with a backdrop of fear and uncertainty behind them at all times. At its core, this book is a deeply painful coming-of-age story filled with the knowledge of the inherent fact that race can have a major impact on your life as a whole.
At first, I was a little wary of this book: 14 characters seems like a lot to keep track of. Chee manages to weave such an elaborate, poignant narrative without ever letting it become too confusing. Every aspect of her storytelling manages to fit together in such a heartbreakingly raw story about one of the biggest crimes in America’s past.”
The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen
“This book is a very eye-opening book. It let you look at racial differences from multiple points of view. The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones is about a mixed kid who is sent to the south for the summer. He meets a white girl named Juniper and they try to have an invincible summer. With that, Ethan learns how race effects people differently throughout the country. It’s a book with excitement and nervousness.
I loved this book! It was full of fun summer activities and serious actions with consequences. Once I started reading, I looked forward to the next time I would read again.”
Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm
“Penny from Heaven is the story of Penny Faiucci, a half-Italian girl. Penny’s father is dead, but she loves spending time with her Italian Family, including her mischievous cousin. However, her mom’s side and dad’s Italian side do not mix. The reason Penny’s father died is unclear and nobody will talk about it. Set in the 1950’s, Penny from Heaven is a coming of age novel about family, hope, hidden secrets, and love.
I loved this book because it was a fun read and was set in an interesting time in history. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction and books that make you nostalgic.”
The Invention of Sophie Carter by Samantha Hastings
"The year is 1851 and twins Sophie and Mariah Carter are identical in appearance, but each has different dreams. Sophie wants to be an inventor and Mariah an artist. Living in poverty, they finally get an opportunity to live with their aunt in London. She only has room for one and they both decide to go and take turns playing "Sophie". Things get complicated when two gentlemen think they love the real one.
I thought the book was okay. It sometimes was a little hard to keep track of all the characters and the plot was a little predictable."
Displacement by Kiku Hughes
“Displacement is a graphic novel that follows Kiku as she travels back in time to the Japanese internment camps that her grandmother endured during the WWII era. At first, Kiku’s displacements are brief, but suddenly, she ends up stuck back in time. While living in the camps, she learns details on how these camps affected her grandmother’s life that she was never told before and discovers how many of these restrictions and similar racial and ethnic prejudices can still be shown in society today. A story that combines memoir and fiction, Displacement shows the strong power of memory and sharing stories.
I really enjoyed this book and I finished it in one sitting. The graphics are very simplistic yet elegant and they are very well done. I think this author’s family story is very important and it shares a side of WWII that is often forgotten about because it wasn’t on the front lines. Additionally, I liked how the author related racial disputes to relevant events that are happening today.”
Traitor by Amanda McCrina
"This book switches between the perspectives of Tolya and Solovey. Tolya is half Ukrainian and half Polish, so he is an enemy to both sides and joins the Russian army. However, after he shoots his officer, it seems like there is no other safe side for him. He is rescued by Ukrainian fighters led by Solovey. Yet, his rescuers don’t know the truth about his identity and could betray him at any time.
I really liked this book—it’s one of my new favorites! I don’t usually like books that switch between multiple perspectives. Regardless, this book is very well written and even though the perspectives are years apart, they flow together and inform each other really well."
Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
"Kii Yazhi is a young Navajo boy whose parents sent him off to boarding school. Boarding school is not easy for Kii and the other Navajo children. In boarding school, they are forced to shave their heads, forced to change their names, forbidden to speak their native language, and told they are lesser than white children. As Kii grows older, he starts to draw interest in becoming a marine. After convincing his parents, he enlists as a marine. The book then follows him throughout his time as a marine, from the beginning of boot camp to his last battle.
I like the book because it was very interesting to see the perspective of a minority that is not welcomed in society at that time but still chooses to fight for the very same country. I also liked the amount of detail that was in the book during the battles. It helped me understand what it was like being a soldier at the time."
Becoming Muhammad Ali by James Patterson
"Becoming Muhammad Ali follows Cassius Clay from a young boy to a young adult. Throughout the novel, Cassius introduces his friends and family from his neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky. It doesn't take long to realize how determined Cassius is to be the best at everything. After watching "Tomorrow's Champions" on TV and having his new bike stolen, Cassius decides he wants to box. He doesn't just want to box though, Cassius wants to be the greatest boxer ever. He aspires to win the Golden Gloves and Olympic gold. Cassius talks a big game, but does he have the skill to back it up?
I enjoyed reading this book; it is fascinating to see how an incredible individual like Ali grew up. It is also interesting to see the confidence Ali had in himself. It is unlike anything I've ever seen. No matter the situation, he always believed in himself. I think everyone could learn from that."
Caught by Margaret Peterson Haddix
“Jonah and Katherine have traveled through time before. However, they learn they have to return Albert Einstein’s daughter to history, a daughter they didn’t even know existed. Einstein did have a daughter named Liseri, whose life is shrouded in misery. When Jonah and Katherine go back in time, Einstein and his wife Mileva seem to understand all about time travel. Mileva has no intention of letting her daughter disappear…
I liked the book because it was educational, as I never knew Einstein had a daughter. In addition, it gave more insight on Mileva, whom no one really talks about.”
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