1940s -- fiction

Faith Ringgold: Stories in Stitches

Faith Ringgold is an artist who uses different materials to tell the stories that are important to her family and her people. Whether working with quilting squares, African masks, paint and brush, or her own words, Faith gives the rich colors and textures a life of their own. There's motion in her work, a striving upward and pushing at the edges of her world.

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

In When the Emperor Was Divine, Julie Otsuka uses a sparse, lyrical writing style to illuminate the psychological effects of one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. The novel opens with a portrait of an ordinary woman going about her daily chores in Berkeley, California. While en route to her local library, she sees something troubling: Evacuation Order No. 19. After reading the notice, she abandons her errands and begins preparing for life in an unfamiliar locale.

At first, the sequence of events feels dystopian or apocalyptic – the world is ending and a family is forced to prepare to face the unknown. But this narrative is a dramatization of history, not a speculative tale of the future. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government began to suspect that American citizens of Japanese ancestry might harbor allegiance to Japan. In 1942, these paranoid fantasies lead to the forcible internment of Japanese-Americans announced in Evacuation Order No. 19.  

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Carlos Ruiz Zafón completely understands what it means to be seduced by a book--to get lost in a plot and feel overwhelmed by perfectly-formed words and phrases. Perhaps that is what allows him to describe--and replicate--that experience in his own novel, The Shadow of the Wind.

The Shadow of the Wind opens in Barcelona in 1945. Daniel Sempere’s father is about to introduce him to a mysterious and labyrinthine place called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. In the Cemetery, the young boy is taught some very important things about the lives of books: “Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”

Mare's War

By Tanita S. Davis

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Teens Octavia and Tali learn about strength, independence, and courage when they are forced to take a car trip with their grandmother, who tells about growing up Black in 1940s Alabama and serving in Europe during World War II as a member of the Women's Army Corps.
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Mickey & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure

By Dan Gutman

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When Joe travels back in time to 1944, he meets the Milwaukee Chicks, one of the only all-female professional baseball teams in the history of the game.
Part of a series.

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Born to Fly

By Michael Ferrari

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In 1942, a girl who longs to be a pilot and her family try to manage their lives in Rhode Island when the father goes to fight in World War ll.

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On the Wings of Heroes

By Richard Peck

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"Davy Bowman’s brother and their dad hung the moon. Dad looks forward to Halloween more than a kid, and Davy’s brother, Bill, flies B-17s. Davy adores these two heroes and tries his best to follow their lead, especially now. World War II has invaded Davy’s homefront boyhood. There’s an air raid drill in the classroom, and being a kid is an endless scrap drive. Bill has joined up, breaking their dad’s heart. It’s an intense, confusing time, and one that will invite Davy to grow up in a hurry. Still, Richard Peck is a master of comedy, and even in this novel of wartime uncertainty, he infuses his tale with humor: oddballs and rascals and boyhood misadventures alongside the poignant moments."

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Kings Row

By Ronald Reagan, Ann Sheridan and Robert Cummings

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When an aspiring doctor loses the one woman in his life to a tragic and untimely death, he goes off to Europe to forget. While he's gone, his friend Drake loses his inherited fortune and his fiance. He takes up with a woman "from the wrong side of the tracks" and an ensuing accident leaves him a cripple. When Cummings, now a full-fledged doctor returns home, it takes everything he has ever learned and experienced to put things right again.
This movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1942.

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Footprints on the Horizon

By Stephanie Grace Whitson

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Romance is in the air on the prairie and it latches onto the hearts of a bitter sergeant, a lonely widow, and a broken POW. What seems to be a typical U.S. Army post proves to be anything but regimented daily routine.
Also available as an audiobook to download.

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Swing by Rupert Holmes

Swing, by Rupert Holmes

Rupert Holmes’ Swing has more than a touch of noir—and its own soundtrack. Set in San Francisco in 1940, vagabond jazz musician Ray Sherwood has been made a very interesting proposition. A beautiful, young Berkley music student wants him in a most peculiar way. She’s won an international contest for composers, and her piece needs to premiere at the Golden Gate Exposition in just a few weeks. What she needs from Ray are his talents to orchestrate her music for many instruments. Ray is enchanted by Gail’s breezy joie de vivre and her snappy patter even as his own troubled past makes him hesitate. But the tenor veers from sweet romance to dangerous liaison when a lovely woman plunges to her death mere feet from the happy couple, changing this composition’s theme from serenade to police siren.