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Historical Fiction

A list of great historical fiction novels for teens curated by MPL Librarians

Cover of Code Name Verity

A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun. As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. (Amazon)

Cover of Under a Painted Sky

A tragic accident dashes Samantha's dream of building a life for herself as a musician in New York City. So she escapes on the Oregon Trail, quickly making friends with Annamae, a runaway slave. The Oregon Trail is not a safe place for two women traveling on their own, so Samantha and Annamae are forced to take on masculine disguises and trust each other far more quickly than either would prefer.

Cover of Flygirl

All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASP - Women Airforce Service Pilots. Ida has a chance to fulfill her dream if she's willing to use her light skin to pass as a white girl.

Cover of The Rock and the River

It's not easy for Sam and Stick to grow up as the sons of a civil rights activist who marches with Dr. King. But as Stick gravitates towards the beliefs of the Black Panthers, the brothers challenge each other, their family, and their community on how to best achieve equality.

Cover of Shame the Stars
Guadalupe Garcia
Lee & Lo

Eighteen-year-old Joaquín del Toro’s future looks bright. With his older brother in the priesthood, he’s set to inherit his family’s Texas ranch. He’s in love with Dulceña—and she’s in love with him. But it’s 1915, and trouble has been brewing along the US-Mexico border. On one side, the Mexican Revolution is taking hold; on the other, Texas Rangers fight Tejano insurgents, and ordinary citizens are caught in the middle. A lush retelling of Romeo and Juliet that takes place during the Mexican-American War, Joaquin and Dulce fight for their love against the background of two warring countries.

Cover of House of Purple Cedar
Cinco Puntos

"The hour has come to speak of troubled times. It is time we spoke of Skullyville." Thus begins Rose Goode's story of her growing up in Indian Territory in pre-statehood Oklahoma. It's a world where backwoods spiritualism and Bible-thumping Christianity mix with bad guys; a one-legged woman shop-keeper, her oaf of a husband, herbal potions, and shape-shifting panthers rendering justice. And so unwinds this tale of mystery, Indian-style magical realism, and deep wisdom. (GoodReads)

Cover of Alex and Eliza
De la Cruz

We agree, we left Hamilton wanting to hear more about Alexander and Eliza Hamilton's courtship! A novelized account of our favorite historical couple, as they "helpless"ly fall in love and lean how to tell their stories together.

Cover of Out of Darkness
Ashley Hope
Carolrhoda Labs

New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. The 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school disaster in American history— serves as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people. (Amazon)

Cover of Dreamland Burning
Little, Brown, and Co.

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family's property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the present and the past. Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what's right the night Tulsa burns. (Amazon)

Cover of Be True to Me

Some might say this is a romance. Others might say this is a cautionary tale about rich people doing horrible things. Who's to say which is right? Read and decide for yourself.