History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.
My obsession with historical fiction started in third grade when I read The American Girl books for the first time. Now at 20 years old, I find myself constantly reaching for that genre.
But as with any other genre, when you first start getting into it, you want to read the books that will make you fall in love with it, instead of struggling to find the best of the best.
The Help- Kathryn Stockett
The Help tells the powerful story of three women in Civil Rights-era Mississippi.
Aibileen, is a black maid in a white home that finds herself growing discontent with the job she's been doing for so long. Minnie is Aibileen's best friend, who also works as a maid. Unlike Aibileen, however, she has several kids to feed and a mouth that often gets her in trouble. Skeeter is the daughter of a high society family who would rather focus on starting her writing career than finding a husband.
Together, these women do something that has never been done before: they decide to tell the stories of the black maids. This simple act is incredibly dangerous, but it just might bring the change the South needs.
Prisoner of Night and Fog- Anne Blankman
Gretchen Mueller grew up knowing Adolf Hitler personally, since her father was his best friend and ultimately died protecting "Uncle Dolf". Since then, she has grown up in the shadow of the National Socialist Party, the poster girl for its ideals.
That is until she meets Daniel, a Jewish reporter that shakes apart everything she has ever known about herself, her family, and the ideals she has clung to for so long.
This is one of my favorite historical fiction books because it brings to life what living in the shadow of such a powerful and horrible person was like.
There is also a sequel called Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke that is equally amazing.
Anne Of Green Gables- L.M. Montgomery
Unmarried brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert want to adopt a boy of 11 or 12 to help the aging duo with the work around their small farm. Instead, they end up with a spunky red-haired girl named Anne Shirley.
Immediately, Marilla wants to send her back, but with a little convincing from both Anne and Matthew, she agrees to let Anne stay, though neither her or Matthew know anything about raising a little girl.
Set in late 19th century Prince Edward Island, Canada, Anne of Green Gables is the perfect story to read if you want something that will make you laugh, cry, and leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
The Fountains Of Silence- Ruta Sepetys
In 1957 Madrid, the Spanish people feel the weight of dictator Francisco Franco's rule. As vacationers from around the world flock to the city for the warm Spanish sunshine, the Spaniards know they must keep silent.
Daniel and his parents are just a few of these vacationers. Daniel's father expects him to carry on the family oil business, but instead, he dreams of becoming a photojournalist.
During his stay, he meets Ana, whose family still struggles with the effects of the Spanish Civil War.
As Daniel uses his camera to capture the beauty of post-war Spain, secrets are revealed, showing that everything is not as it appears in the Spanish sunshine.
Johnny Tremain- Esther Forbes
Johnny Tremain, a silversmith's apprentice in pre-Revolutionary War Boston, brings him into contact with many of the Patriot heroes, including James Otis and Samuel Adams.
From the earlier years of discussing politics in back rooms to the Boston Tea Party to the first battles of the Revolution, Johnny Tremain gives readers insight into the birth of a nation and the dreams of a teenage boy.
Between Shades Of Gray/ Ashes In The Snow- Ruta Sepetys
Lina and her family were ordinary Lithuanian citizens, until the Soviet secret police showed up at their door one night and forced them onto cattle trains bound for Siberia. Separated from her father, Lina, her younger brother, and her mother attempt to survive their harsh, new reality.
Based on stories from the author's family, this is definitely one to read if you want a tearjerker.
Radar Girls- Sara Ackerman
Growing up in Hawaii, Daisy Wilder has always felt more connected to animals and nature, than to people. But when Pearl Harbor is attacked, she along with several other women, step up to take the place of the soldiers fighting on the front lines as as apart of the top secret program known as Women's Air Raid Defense (WARD). Their job is to guide pilots on to blacked out airstrips and track unidentified aircraft headed towards the islands.
Not everyone agrees that the women are the best people for the sometimes difficult job, but with the ones they love fighting for the future of America, Daisy and her friends know that failure isn't an option.
Told in simple yet powerful prose, this book is must-read for lovers of World War II fiction.
History and fiction are known for being to of the greatest teachers one can ever have. When you put them together, they become all the more powerful.