A Trip In Time – YA Historical Fiction

A great way to learn about history is to read stories set during times past. From 1955 Virginia to 18th century Europe, the books listed below will take you on a trip exploring people’s yesterdays.

*All book descriptions are from the publisher.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook, Overdrive audiobook, and hoopla audiobook

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography—and fate—introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War—as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook and Overdrive audiobook.

Flygirl by Sheryl Smith

Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot, and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.

When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots—and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook and hoopla audiobook.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this year long escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook, Overdrive audiobook, hoopla ebook, and hoopla audiobook.

Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

In 1955, in Caroline County, Virginia, amidst segregation and prejudice, injustice and cruelty, two teenagers fell in love. Their life together broke the law, but their determination would change it. Richard and Mildred Loving were at the heart of a Supreme Court case that legalized marriage between races, and a story of the devoted couple who faced discrimination, fought it, and won.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook, hoopla ebook, and hoopla audiobook.

Race Relations: Historical Resources

In light of current events, we would like to remind you that the Abbot Public Library offers a multitude of resources with current, reliable, regularly updated information, which is easily accessible and available at any time.

Salem Press (introduced in a previous post) is the latest acquired reference database, with a very large history section, where you can search for particular events or names, or just browse through American history, decade by decade, learning about critical events and influential people.

You can browse through another section, Milestones Documents of American History, to get a better understanding of the most important documents and primary sources.

In addition to browsing and searching, Salem Press offers curated content to explore current events, which is a unique feature of this database. 

To help explore and better understand current events, you can browse through selected essays on several subjects, which are, presently: race relations, social justice, violent demonstration, civil disobedience, and others.

EBSCO History Reference Center, a database which you will find listed under the EBSCOhost, offers full text from reference books, encyclopedia, leading history periodicals, and biographies. The database also has historical photos and maps, as well as archival videos to offer.

Gale Biography is a well-organized database, where you can browse or search for biographies of influential people of their time. 

All these digital databases are free and accessible with your library card through the Digital Resources page on the library blog.

The New York Times published a list of the most influential books on race and the black experience, created by Ibram X. Kendi, a professor of history at the University of Florida and a published author. Here are some of the titles mentioned in that NYT list:

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi won the national Book Award. In his deeply researched book, the author gives an account of the history of racist ideas and thoughts and shows their power through the course of American history.

The New Jim Crow was named the most influential book of the last decade and collected numerous awards, inspiring criminal justice reform activists and organizations. Its tenth anniversary edition was reprinted recently.

Dreams from My Father, published in 1995, is a memoir by Barack Obama that looks at the problem of race, class, and color.

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award; it is also on the PBS Great American Read Top 100 list.

Beloved by Toni Morrison also won the Pulitzer and was adapted as a movie with the same title.

You can also check out the following titles from the list (click the cover image):

The ebook format
The audiobook format

All these ebooks and audiobooks are available through Overdrive/Libby with your card.