I just recently read 2 historical YAs in a row so I figured I’d talk about them together! Now, before I blogged, I read A LOT of historical fiction. It was mostly adult historical fiction then. Since getting really into YA I haven’t read that much historical fiction. It’s there but until the last year or two I feel like there weren’t THAT many new releases in that genre in YA so I’m excited that there seem to be more on my radar recently! If you like historical fiction, check out some of my favorites! I wrote that a year ago so in that time I’d add A Mad Wicked Folly to that list as well as Brazen!
So what two time periods in history did I time travel to recently??
Munich, Germany in the 1930’s as Hitler is rising to power & on the Oregon Trail in 1849!
So let’s talk Oregon Trail first because UM THAT WAS MY JAM BACK IN THE 90’s. That game, man. I always died from dysentery and what a bitch it was to shoot like 2000 pounds of bison and only be able to carry a 1000 back to the wagon. AND WHEN IT SPOILED?!? UHHHH. And anyone else name the people in your wagon after people you didn’t like so you were like WELP SORRY YOU DIED FROM CHOLERA AIN’T THAT A BITCH.
Under A Painted Sky
Published: March 17, 2015
So I really liked Under the Painted Sky! Firstly, it was a great book about friendship between two girls who are on the run together and who are definitely outsiders in Missouri in 1849 — one is a Chinese immigrant and the other is a black slave. I love how their friendship starts as companions out of necessity to flee towards California but it grows along the way and they really feel like sisters. Also, I loved the friendship that forms with the group of boys they meet on the trail. Secondly, GENDER BENDING. So, it’s already going to be hard for them trekking on the Oregon trail as Chinese and African American BUT they are women and they are on the run. SO THEY PRETEND TO BE DUDES AND HAVE TO KEEP THAT UP AROUND THE GROUP OF GUYS THEY JOURNEY WITH (who she even maybe sorta feels romantical feelings about). I loved it.I mean, the logistics of having to pee but also not blow your cover??
I think the only thing that fell sort of short for me (it was a matter of expectations I think) is that I just imagined the sort of harsh conditions of the Oregon Trail that I always learned about (I literally almost also typed in “experienced as I played Oregon Trail hahha maybe that was just my bad gaming). I mean, they had some bumps in the road along the way for sure but it never FELT super dangerous or exhausting or hard to me in the way I thought it was aside from one part closer to the end. I’ve read books where I FELT the elevated danger but for some reason I didn’t have that tense feeling while reading. Still REALLY good and wonderful. Loved the setting and the plot — definitely haven’t seen it done before in YA! And I definitely fell in love with the characters. AND THAT COVER IS EVEN MORE GORGEOUS IN PERSON.
Next up was:
Prisoner of Night & Fog by Anne Blankman
Published: April 2014
I have read A LOT of books set in Nazi Germany and the war and dealing with the Holocaust. Where this one was different is that 1) it was set AS Hitler was gaining more popularity and power, not when he was in power and 2) it’s POV is from a young girl whose family (and her own beliefs) are Nazi through and through aka Adolf Hitler is a family friend (until she starts questioning things). Normally the books I pick up are from the POV of the people being persecuted or people who are helping them (aka The Book Thief the family is German but they don’t believe the Nazi agenda).
I love watching the main character question everything she’s ever been told/believed as she’s faced with some truth that changes her whole life and she gets close with Daniel who is Jewish…who she’s been told to hate and fear. It was SO interesting to see Hitler as a person — he’s called Uncle Dolf and she’s super fond of him. There was still no good feelings towards him from me but it was an interesting thought how he might have looked to family and friends. This book got REALLY intense and I could NOT put it down. As she started looking into things that went against EVERYTHING she and her family stood for, the stakes got higher. Loved her and thought she was so brave — for how she handled it but also I think it takes a courageous person to stand up to everything you believed even when it means you’ll probably lose everything you had before. Can’t wait to read the conclusion (it’s a duology I’ve been told).
*Standard disclaimer: I did get both of these for review but PINKIE SWEAR/GIRL SCOUT HONOR…these opinions are mine whether they sent it or I hauled my butt to the library/doled out cash money to get it.*