Hey there. Welcome to Feature Shelf, a series that provides book recommendations based on theme or title suggestions. This week’s shelf was requested by Karen. I am the (book) supplier and this is Feature Shelf #23: The Historical Fiction Edition Part 1: WWII.
More than any other historical period, my students ask for books about World War II, specifically, the Holocaust. It may be because they read Diary of a Young Girl in their English classes, or they’re fascinated with genocide… I’m not sure. Whatever the reason, I’ve put together a shelf of five historical fiction novels set in World War II that don’t just deal with the Holocaust.
The first novel on our shelf this week is The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, a middle grade novel by John Boyne. Told from the perspective, and with the language of a nine year old boy, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas tells a story of the Holocaust from the point of view of a child who moves from Germany to Poland. Living next door to Auschwitz, he happens to make friends with a boy on the other side of the fence.
The second novel on our shelf this week is Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys. We know that Hitler marched all over Europe. And that’s what, at least I, tend to remember. But around the same time, Stalin was marching all over countries surrounding Russia. Between Shades of Gray is a beautifully haunting story about the displacement of Lithuanian people under Stalin’s regime from the perspective of a teenage girl.
Third on our shelf is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This one is told from the point of view of Death, and is the story of Leisel Meminger — a book thief in a time of book burnings — in Munich who shares her love of books with anyone she possibly can.
Next on our shelf is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Verity, an English spy, has been caught by the Gestapo. In order to prolong her life, she tells the story of how she came to be where she is. It’s hard to talk about this one without giving it away, so I’m going to stop talking about it and move on.
Last on the shelf this week, which I don’t currently have a copy to show you, is Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. This one is an adult novel, but I read it when I was a junior in high school, for English class, so I’m going to include it here for more mature readers. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States officially entered World War II, many Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans were relocated to internment camps. This is part of the history of San Pedro island, a history that haunts the island through the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto, who is being tried for the murder of a local fisherman.
So those are some novels you might enjoy if you like reading about World War II: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Between SHades of Gray, The Book Thief, Code Name Verity and Snow Falling on Cedars.
And that’s it for this episode. For the Feature Shelf archives and show notes, both video and podcast, or to request your own Feature Shelf check out thebooksupplier.com/featureshelf. You can also send me requests on Facebook or Twitter at thebooksupplier (all one word) or an email at thebooksupplier at gmail dot com.
I’m going to leave you there now, dear readers. Thanks for listening to Feature Shelf #23: The Historical Fiction WWII Edition. As always, I am the supplier wishing you happy reading. Don’t forget to be awesome.