Thursday, February 22, 2018

Fifteen YA Books Set in the Recent Past

I adore historical fiction: any time period, any geographic location, any subject matter. One of my favorite sub-genres, however, is recent historical fiction, which I loosely define as any story set in the 1970s or later. Here are some of my favorites, and some that are on my TBR. (Click on the images to be taken to the book's Goodreads page.)

This sweeping story spotlights a Bengali Indian-British-American family that grapples with issues like cultural and national identity over the course of three generations. It's incisively insightful, and it will make you fall in love with each of its characters. (And anyone who knows my tastes knows I love multigenerational stories.)

Four wildly different lives intersect in this quiet, character-driven tale about finding and choosing your family. The story truly capitalizes on its Alaskan setting, creating a powerful sense of place.

This sweeping, atmospheric story about a dangerous love triangle is sure to draw readers into its summer setting.

Fifteen-year-old Vinnie's life is kind of falling apart; his girlfriend moved to California without saying goodbye, his parents are divorcing, and his mom is moving him away from his home in Queens. What follows is a story of phone calls, angst, and girl-next-door romance.

This A Separate Peace-esque novel is a quietly beautiful triumph. The storytelling style is disjointed, stream-of-conscious, and overall strange, and the historical setting adds the perfect touch to a stunning story about friendship and coming of age.

This book's setting is based on the Kowloon Walled City, a lawless city of crime and debauchery that stood in China from the mid-1900s to 1994, when demolition was officially completed. This story, then, is just as thrilling as you'd expect.

Based on the author's own experiences, this novel follows a girl who is sent to a less-than-supportive psychiatric hospital in the 1980s to seek treatment for her eating disorder.

When Laura, an American university student studying abroad in the Soviet Union, falls for a local boy named Alexei, she realizes they must keep their relationship a secret for their own protection. Complete with emotionally-charged world-building, this story about a fraught romance and a nation shrouded in secrecy will have you hooked.

A historic heat wave is scorching Fielding Bliss's small town the summer he makes friends with the devil. As temperatures and tensions rise, strange accidents begin to occur—and no one quite knows why.

This heartrending story about a gay girl growing up in small-town Montana is equal parts languidly character-driven and thrillingly page-turning. It's one of my all-time favorites. (P.S. It was also recently turned into a movie that won the grand jury prize at Sundance Film Festival! Apparently it hasn't been picked up for distribution yet, but it had better be soon.)

The "DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-1990s" sets the backdrop for this quirky friendship-to-romance tale.

This stunning tearjerker-in-verse set during the height of the NYC AIDS crisis tells a deeply-felt story of family, secrets, and growing up. It's perfect for fans of Tell the Wolves I'm Home.

Set 23 years ago, before the buzz of technology and social media set the beat of society, this story provides the perfect quiet, introspective setting for a quiet, introspective story about recovering from a tragedy and expressing yourself through poetry.

Set during the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, this story follows two teenagers dealing with loss and displacement.

If you're looking for a story set in the extremely recent past, this brilliant novel is for you. It centers around the Boston Marathon Bombing, spotlighting the reactions and private lives of teenagers across the country. From a Delaware teen with Superior Autobiographical Memory to an Idaho teen who's caught up in a risky "Plan" coordinated by an internet mastermind, each section of this book is enthralling.

What are your favorite YA books set in the recent past? I'm always looking for recommendations!

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