World War II -- fiction

For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy

Kimberly Bradley

A teenager transforms from a schoolgirl to a spy in this true story of heroism in wartime. Suzanne David's everyday life is suddenly shattered in 1940 when a bomb drops on the main square of her hometown, the city of Cherbourg, France, killing a pregnant neighbor right in front of her. Until then the war had seemed far away, not something that would touch her or her teenage friends. Now Suzanne's family is kicked out onto the street as German soldiers take over their house as a barracks. Suzanne clings to the one thing she really loves--singing.

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Boy Who Dated

Susan Campbell Bartoletti

 In October, 1942, seventeen-year-old Helmuth Hübener, imprisoned for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets, recalls his past life and how he came to dedicate himself to bring the truth about Hitler and the war to the German people.  Based on a true story.

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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

We are all very familiar with the atrocities engineered by Adolph Hitler, but less is heard about the atrocities that occurred at the direction of Joseph Stalin.  Twenty million people were murdered under his leadership.  In the book Between the Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys gives a very compelling account of the Soviet invasion of the country of Lithuania in 1941.  Lists of people who were considered enemies of the state were compliled, and these people were removed from their homes and workplaces.  These people were often professors, teachers, writers, artists, and librarians.  The men were sent to prison and the women and children to forced labor camps--some of which were located in Siberia and the Arctic Circle.  These individuals were separated from family members and forced to live under extremely harsh conditions with none of the comforts of home.  They were not given food or medical attention.  The women and children were shoved into railroad cars and sent away without ever being told where they were going.

The main character in this book is named Lina.  She, her mother, and her younger brother are removed by force from their home and sent to Siberia.  In Siberia, which is harsh enough to begin with, they have to scrounge for anything to eat.  Even one potato becomes a luxury for the prisoners.  Beets become a treat.  The prisoners are forced to dig with shovels which have no handles, and they sleep on the freezing cold floor of a shack.

The English Patient

By Michael Ondaatje

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"With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II. Hana, the exhausted nurse; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burned man who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminates this book like flashes of heat lightning."

Also available on audio and as an Academy Award-winning video.

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Charlotte Gray

By Sebastian Faulks

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It is 1942. London is blacked out, but France is under a greater darkness, as the occupying Nazi forces encroach ever closer in a tense waiting game. Charlotte Gray, a volatile but determined young woman, travels south from Edinburgh. Working in London, she has a brief but intense love affair with an RAF pilot. When his plane is lost over France, she contrives to go there herself to work in the Resistance and to search for him--but then is unwilling to leave as she finds that the struggle for the country's fate is intimately linked to her own battle to take control of her life.

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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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Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

By Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr

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A nun and a Marine sergeant, stranded on a Pacific island in 1944, hide out from the invading Japanese.
Not rated.
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Kensuke's kingdom

By Michael Morpurgo

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When Michael's parents lose their jobs, they buy a boat and decide to sail around the world with their son and their beloved dog. It's an ideal trip - until Michael is swept overboard. He's washed up on an island, where he struggles to survive. Then he discovers that he's not alone. His fellow-castaway, Kensuke, keeps his distance at first. But when Michael's life is threatened, he slowly lets the boy into his world.
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The Cay

By Theodore Taylor

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Phillip is excited when the Germans invade the small island of Curacao. War has always been a game to him, and he's eager to glimpse it firsthand--until the freighter he and his mother are traveling to the United States on is torpedoed. When Phillip comes to, he is on a small raft in the middle of the sea. Besides Stew Cat, his only companion is an old West Indian, Timothy. Phillip remembers his mother's warning about black people: "They are different, and they live differently." But by the time the castaways arrive on a small island, Phillip's head injury has made him blind and dependent on Timothy.
Also available on audio. Timothy of the Cay is the sequel.

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An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

In An Artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro gracefully explores the experiences and memories of a disgraced artist living in post-war Japan. The novel is seductive and haunting, but I was also impressed by its substance and depth.

Mansuji Ono, the novel’s protagonist, was once a great artist whose paintings commanded respect throughout Japan. Following the end of World War II, however, Ono experiences a surreal displacement. From Ono’s perspective, the former order he was a part of has not only been abandoned, it has been rejected and renounced as the epitome of disaster. Instead of enjoying the power and prestige that accompanied his former reputation, Ono finds himself adrift, an aging man who wanders through a crumbling house, where all traces of his past life have been “tidied away.”