Historical Fiction for Young Adults

Originally posted on Wed, Feb 24 2010 at ROPL.org.

Historical fiction is a unique way of looking at our, and other people’s, pasts. Novelists take historical events or people and recreate them with a mix of fact and fiction. While popular with adults, there are numerous historical fiction books for teens and young adults.

Two recently published titles are Newes From the Dead by Mary Hooper and Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith.Newes From the Dead is based on the true story of Anne Green, a young servant who was hanged, only to wake up on the dissection table. Hooper’s book, told from the point of view of Anne Green and a young medical student witnessing her return to life. The novel is an interesting look into both life in the 1600s and the lives of poor women. The book also includes a bibliography and a copy of the original story of Anne Green.

Sherri L. Smith’s novel, Flygirl, is also about a young woman. But instead of the 1600s, her novel takes places during World War II. The heroine of the story, Ida Mae Jones, longs to fly planes, but as a black Southern girl, there’s not much she can do. Smith’s novel tells the story of Jones’ attempt to join the US government’s program called WASP, or Women Airforce Service Pilots. This little-known piece of history is well written and deals with issues of race, sex and growing up in a world that’s seemingly against you.

Sarah’s Picks of 2009

Originally posted on Wed, Feb 10 2010 at ROPL.org.

A short list of books read and reviewed in 2009.


Chernobyl Murders by Michael Beres starts off on the eve of the Chernobyl meltdown in the Ukraine. Beres’ story follows Lazlo Horvath, a Kiev detective whose brother worked at the nuclear plant.Chernobyl Murders is, on one hand, a fictional tale of the meltdown, while on the other, it’s a vivid murder mystery. Horvath must try to solve a crime in a country where no one wants answers. This is Beres’ first Horvath novel. Read also: Traffyck

The Little  Stranger by Sarah Waters is a ghost story at heart. Set in Britain in the 1940s, The Little Stranger is told through the eyes of a country doctor. Dr. Faraday finds himself entangled with a family who live in a once beautiful, but now decaying home. Waters’ novel is a mix of traditional ghost story and love story, wrapped up in a shroud of mystery that Dr. Faraday doesn’t even quite understand. The novel is an excellent page-turner. Read also: Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith, and The Night Watch

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson is the first in a series of books called the Millenium trilogy. Larsson’s novel is more than just a traditional Scandinavian mystery. The main characters are disgraced journalist named Mikael Blomkvist and his accidental assistant, Lisbeth Salander. While Blomkvist is the detective of the novel, it’s really Salander who steals the show. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an engaging, disturbing and rewarding novel. Read also: The Girl who Played with Fire

Fathom by Cherie Priest is a ghost story, a tale of the end of the world and a murder. Priest’s writing is vivid, moving and extremely complex. Fathom follows the story of Nia, a young girl who witnesses a terrible murder. What ensues is a story of revenge and freedom told from varying points of view.Fathom is a horror novel, but at it’s core its a story of a world like our own, but where old gods still roam. Priest, as always, creates a world we love to read about, but never live in. Read also:Boneshaker

Young Adult

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork is a novel about a teenage boy who suffers from autism. He’s forced into the real world by his father, who insists he leave the safety of his childhood in order to grow up. It’s a story about family relationships, about growing up and about love. Marcelo in the Real World is moving, beautifully written story.

Keeper by Mal Peet is the first in a series of books about the sport of soccer in a fictional South African country. Keeper is the story and memories of a famous goalkeeper, named El Gato. He tells his story to Paul Faustino, a reporter who shows up and plays an important role in all of Peet’s soccer-related novels. Keeper contains a little bit of sport, a little bit of fantasy and a lot of beautiful writing. Read also:The Penalty and Exposure

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford tells the story of how 15 year old Jeff ended up in hospital psychiatric ward. Ford’s novel is mixed with sexuality, confusion and humor. Jeff, a thoroughly unreliable narrator, guides us through is time in the hospital, which eventually leads to the real reason why he tried to kill himself. Suicide Notes is a quick read, told in an engaging fashion by a well written narrator.

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith is a historical fiction novel about a young African American woman who dreams of flying. Set in World War II, Flygirl follows the life of Ida Mae Jones as she joins the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) in order to both fulfill her dreams and help with the war. Smith’s novel is a complex tale of race, gender and class, both within the ranks of the military and outside it.

2010 Winter Olympics – Vancouver

Originally posted on Tuesday, 09 February 2010 at ROPL.org.

Love the Olympics? The wait’s over! The 2010 Winter Olympics, taking place in Vancouver, Canada, begin Friday February 12th and run through Sunday the 28th. Thousands of athletes and fans will converge on Vancouver for two weeks of sport.

NBC will be hosting TV and online coverage in the United States, while TSN will cover the Olympics in Canada.

Here are list of resources for the 2010 Winter Olympics: