Set against the backdrop of the Son of Sam serial killings in New York during the summer of 1977, Burn Baby Burn tells the story of Nora, a girl with fledgling hopes for her future despite her dysfunctional family. The book weaves together Nora's typical teenage problems - deciding whether or not to go to college, figuring out her crush on her new coworker - with the extraordinary circumstances of that summer for a compelling look into how these events affected everyday people. For me, this book was a fascinating glimpse into a small part of history I had never heard of before; as a fan of historical fiction, I always love the smaller parts of history that frequently go ignored, as they often make for the best stories.
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
When Hanneke, a smuggler of restricted goods in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, is charged with tracking down a missing Jewish girl, she plunges headfirst into the fledgeling Dutch resistance movement and becomes entangled in a quest to save just one girl. The book is a masterfully written, and hauntingly beautiful, twisting mystery that's equal parts heartbreak and plot twists. Monica Hesse's debut novel is perfect for fans of mystery and Ruta Sepetys alike.
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee (Putnam Books for Young Readers)
I adored Stacey Lee's Under a Painted Sky, so I was delighted to learn that she was once again writing historical fiction. Outrun the Moon is the story of Mercy Wong, who dreams of escaping San Fransisco's Chinatown to one day start her own business. When she miraculously manages to be accepted at St. Clare's School for Girls, Mercy just might be able to pursue her dreams, against all odds. But disaster strikes in the form of the Great Earthquake of 1906, leveling everything and anyone in its wake. Mercy is a brilliant, charismatically headstrong young woman, which makes for not just a compelling and sympathetic protagonist, but an incredibly enjoyable narrative. As I noted in my review of her debut novel, Stacey Lee's characters are where her writing truly shines, and Outrun the Moon only further illustrates that.
The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry (Viking Books for Young Readers)
The hauntingly beautiful tale of two young women caught up in the Catholic Church's persecution of perceived heresy in medieval France, The Passion of Dolssa is a touching and eloquent book that left me almost speechless - I'm at a loss for words to describe how well the book is written. There's a reason why it was given a Printz award honor, people.
Girl About Town by Adam Shankman and Laura L. Sullivan (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
A tale involving 1930s gangsters, murder plots, and glamorous Hollywood, Girl About Town makes for a delightful mystery. When a washed-up playboy and a murder-witness-turned-movie-star meet, they become embroiled in a murder scheme that only gets deeper the further they look. If you're looking for a fun, glitzy mystery set in classic mid-century Hollywood, Girl About Town is the book for you.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel Books)
As with her debut novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys' Salt to the Sea tackles an overlooked tragedy - in this case, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff - through an evocative and poignant narrative of four teenagers aboard. Amidst tragedy and the bitter hate of war, the beauty of kindness shines out throughout the novel, the only thing allowing the characters - and indeed, the reader - to accept and bear the atrocities they’ve borne witness to. You can check out the rest of my review here.
Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey (Swoon Books)
Love, Lies and Spies is a captivating romance, full of action and intrigue contrasted with the historical setting. Set in Regency England, this book follows the escapades of Julliana Telford, a young women far more interested in ladybugs than lords and ladies. Alongside her cousin, she is about to enter ~the Season~, the glorified husband-hunt amongst the aristocracy, when she finds herself unwittingly drawn to Spencer Northam, a dashing gentleman who comes to her rescue when she finds herself dangling off a cliff (while pursuing ladybugs, of course - all in the name of science). Little does she know that Spencer works for the War Office and is focused on tracking down Napoleonic traitors... leading him straight to her social circle. Full of romance and action, spies and scientists, Love, Lies and Spies is perfect for fans of Austen-style romance with a side dish of espionage. You can read more of my review here.
If you think I'm missing any other great historical fiction books from 2016, comment below or tweet me @YAlitfrenzywhat one of your favorite historical fiction novels was last year!
Carolyn is a teen blogger who shares her favorite YA reads and favorite book related finds with readers on Fridays.