New & Upcoming Historical Fiction: High School
Teens can take a trip back in time with these historical fiction novels. Perhaps it will lead to them to literary greats or maybe it will make historical people or events real for high school readers.
The Secret Life of William Shakespeare by Jude Morgan. 9781250025036. 2014. Gr. 11-Adult
Is there a word that can elicit as many groans from a classroom as “Shakespeare”? But what if The Bard and his times could be rendered alive, transformed into the very wit and drama that his plays themselves captured? That is what Jude Morgan accomplishes with The Secret Life of William Shakespeare. Within its pages, we see Shakespeare as he may have been…a complicated man who was both ahead of his time in some areas, while also very much behind it in others. This is a supreme work of historical fiction that blends aspects of Will Shakespeare’s childhood, romantic relationships, play writings, and numerous acquaintances (Ben Jonson plays a key role) that shape the famous poet. To quote the master himself: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. And one man in his time plays many parts.”
Looking For Jack Kerouac by Barbara Shoup. 9781938126475. 2014. Gr. 9-12
If Jack Kerouac’s ground-breaking novel On The Road could look at itself in a mirror, it would be staring at “Looking For Jack Kerouac”. Part homage and part reflection, this novel takes the Zeitgeist of the Beat generation that Kerouac helped to create and looks at it with a fresh pair of eyes. The year is 1964, and two young men are so mesmerized by Kerouac’s tale that they decide strike out to find Kerouac themselves. What they find at the end of the road may surprise them, but isn’t it really about “the journey” all along? A compelling coming-of-age tale for high school students looking towards the “great unknown” looming after graduation.
The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic by Hazel Gaynor. 9780062316868. 2014. Gr. 11-Adult.
Seventeen-year old Maggie Murphy is leaving Ireland for America, the “land of opportunity”. While the other members of her traveling party are overjoyed by future possibilities, all Maggie can think about is what she is leaving behind: her heritage, her boyfriend; practically her entire life. The first leg of her journey? A berth on Titanic, the “unsinkable giant”. Fast-forward 70 years to 1982. Maggie’s great-granddaughter is an aspiring writer who stumbles upon Maggie’s journals from that fateful voyage. Through those journals, both generations are able to connect with memories long-thought as sunken as the ocean liner itself. The deep, emotional themes of this story target older YA audiences, yet none of the material would be questionable for younger, more advanced readers.
Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen. 9781250042156. 2014. Gr. 11-Adult
Everyone knows the story of Peter Pan. But what if we’ve all been told wrong? Is it possible that Captain Hook was really the good guy all along? In Alias Hook, author Lisa Jensen posits that James Hookbridge might actually be the sympathetic figure in Neverland, constantly tormented by Pan and his ruthless gang of Lost Boys. As readers are introduced to this alternative theory about Neverland, familiar groups such as fairies, mermaids, Indians, pirates, and even an infamous reptilian with a penchant for hand-flesh make appearances. Because most children already know Pan’s tale, this book is very accessible, with many previously-established characters that will help uncertain readers.
The Confabulist by Steven Galloway. 9781594631962. 2014. Gr. 11-Adult.
Magic consists of four parts: Effect…Method…Misdirection…and Reconstruction, shading the line between substance and illusion. The most famous magician of all-time, Harry Houdini, is the primary subject of The Confabulist, a tale of possibilities. Did Houdini really perish of a burst appendix? What is the story behind the man whose unexpected blow may have sealed his fate? Where does Ehrich Weiss (Houdini’s given name) begin and the stage act end? While weaving an engaging espionage tale into the important events of Houdini’s career, author Steven Galloway is able (like any great author…or magician) to blur the line between fantasy and reality to the point of having to decipher which is which.