World War II -- fiction
What would you do to survive in wartime? What would you sacrifice? Whom would you sacrifice? Three refugees—all teens—are on the losing side of World War II. They are struggling through the German-Prussian countryside, heading for the same destination—a German evacuation camp of civilians and wounded soldiers on the Baltic Sea. They're hoping for some kind of safety from the Russians who, coming from one direction, will kill them and the Allied Forces, coming from another direction, who could do the same. But they are not even safe from their own countrymen, because all three also have secrets. Ones they are desperate to protect. Ones that could mean they are left behind in the snow by the others to die if they are not killed by the bombs first.
The old house Maggie inherited from her English grandmother was a testament to bygone days of glory. Maggie only meant to come to London to sell it, but with the housing market down and war raging in Europe—and most definitely threatening England—Maggie decided to keep it and fill it with her twentysomething friends.
Sarah is a dancer. “Chuck” is that tough yet tender rarity for the 1940s—a woman doctor. Paige is an old classmate from Wellesley, a Southern belle. Then there are the boy-crazy twins who live for the theatre.
“Life Unworthy of Life”
The Nazi leaders (mostly) went along with idea of eugenics. That is, having more of the types of people they thought were worthy of keeping around, while getting rid of the people they believed were undesirable—whom they considered a “burden to society.” They blamed the Jews for the economic troubles their country faced after World War I. So, in their “Final Solution,” the Jews had to go. The horrors as millions of people—mothers, children, fathers, businesspeople, craftspeople, retirees—were taken to their imprisonment and death is remembered as the Holocaust.
Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity starts with something different and unexpected, a story’s protagonist, or hero, not being very heroic. Our protagonist, a young female British spy, is being held hostage in an aristocratic hotel in Nazi-occupied France. While other spies would withstand any amount of torture in order to protect their friends, family, and country, Code Name Verity’s protagonist, whose name and identity are a secret, begins by making a deal with the Gestapo. She will give them anything and everything they want to know, including writing the story of how she arrived in Nazi-occupied France, and, in return, they will feed her, clothe her, stop torturing her, and they will not kill her—for now.
I’m not sure I’ve read a book as simultaneously uplifting and horrifying as The Book Thief. Perhaps this is not too surprising as it’s narrated by Death himself.
Marjorie Burke was angry. Her little sister had married an Orthodox Jew and seemed to change overnight from a fun-loving, normal, naughty girl into a serious wife and mother—and a very religious one, in keeping with her new husband’s beliefs. As a grad student immersed in ancient stories of the White Rebbe, a Jewish holy man and magician, Majorie has an academic historian’s point of view on legends. She never expected them to come calling in real life or to have to face down a supernatural being called The Angel of Losses on her own.
City of Women, by David R. Gillham, is set in 1943, Berlin, which has indeed become a city of women as most of the men have gone off to fight in World War II.
Henriette Lazaridis Power’s The Clover House is a romantic puzzle set in passionate Greece—both the partying Greece of today and its troubled World War II occupation. It is the story of a mother and daughter who never really bonded and the reasons why.
Looking for a mystery with great characters and a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat? Read The Girl Next Door, by Ruth Rendell.
Six decades after World War II, construction workers uncover a tin box containing two skeletal hands. The ensuing police investigation leads to the reunion of six friends who decades before had lived and played in the neighborhood where the hands were found. Old friends will reunite, a marriage will break up, and a past crime will be solved.
Jack is plunked down on a rocky Maine beach straight from the wheat fields of Kansas. His father, a Navy captain, thinks that the nautical prep school is a good match to square away his son who seems to be adrift after his mother’s unexpected death. But Jack finds out in Clare Vanderpool’s Navigating Early that it’s going to take a lot more than a tightly-made bed or learning how to row to get him back on course.