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Four strangers' lives intertwine as World World II draws to a close. Each young adult carries a secret but must trust the others in order to survive. Short chapters and alternating perspectives immerse you in their icy, perilous trek, and Sepetys captures the commonality of humanity in the context of a little-known naval tragedy during the evacuation of (then) East Prussia. Fourteen and Up. Kit Ballenger
This vivid depiction of Malcolm X's life as a child and young adult follows him from the Great Depression to post World War II Harlem, as he moved from Lansing, Michigan, to Boston, Harlem and then returned to Boston, and prison.
Dodger, 17, survives in nineteenth century London by scouring its sewers for jewels. When he sees a girl desperately flee from a horse-drawn carriage trying to escape captors, he takes action that leads him to encounters with Sweeney Todd, Charles Dickens, and Benjamin Disraeli. Stephen Briggs brilliantly conveys the sorrow, dry humor, and danger in this historical fantasy. (14 up)
In 1958, 12-year-old Marlee's forbidden friend, fearless Lizzie, helps her find her own voice in concert with the adults around her who have been quietly acquiescent to the battle against integration that closed high schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1958. The novel’s verbal power offers a viable alternative for Julia Whelan’s uniquely voiced and perfectly-timed audio narration. (10-14)
Note: Renominated for new narrator -- Twelve-year-old Abilene has just been sent to live in the town where her father grew up. A drifter since childhood, he doesn't have any living relatives, but for a time, he found a home in Manifest, Kansas. Though upset about being sent away, Abilene takes the opportunity to dig into her dad's (and the town's) storied past. Jenna Lamia's young voice suits Abilene and the story's other characters while the use of multiple narrators helps listeners keep track of the story as it jumps between 1936 and 1918. Audio. Colleen Beaupre
This fictional account of Manjiro, the 14-year-old Japanese boy whom whalers rescued in 1841, is filled with hardship and adventure as well as an outsider's perspective on nineteen-century American culture. Gritty details and authentic illustrations evoke the period.