Staff Note: Young Adult Reads is a series of posts reviewing items that are geared toward teens, but are of interest to all York County Public Library readers.
According to the Veterans Affairs’ Office of Public Affairs, the most important purpose of Veterans Day is as follows, “a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good." In the spirit of Veterans Day, the following YA suggestions involve both stories of wartime and what comes after.
Our choices below reflect the concepts of service, sacrifice, and the life-altering nature of being in combat. Each book is written by a YA author and connects its plot to a specific, modern U.S.-involved war or military campaign. Teen readers of historical fiction or contemporary wartime fiction will want to check out this list; so will teens interested in reading about the lives and/or struggles of veterans as well as the effects of service on veterans’ families.
- Soldier boys by Dean Hughes — Two boys, one German and one American, are eager to join their respective armies during World War II, and their paths cross at the Battle of the Bulge.
- Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers — Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, just out of his Harlem high school, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam.
- Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers — Robin Perry, from Harlem, is sent to Iraq in 2003 as a member of the Civilian Affairs Battalion, and his time there profoundly changes him.
- Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles — After her soldier brother is horribly wounded in Afghanistan, Gabriela must honor the vow she made: If anything ever happened to him, she would walk the Camino de Santiago through Spain, making a pilgrimage in his name. The worst part is that the promise stipulates that she must travel with her brother’s best friend—a boy she has despised all her life.
- Dear Blue Sky by Mary Sullivan — Shortly after Cass’s big brother is deployed to fight in Iraq, Cass becomes pen pals with an Iraqi girl who opens her eyes to the effects of war.
- Something Like Normal by Trish Doller — When Travis returns home from Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother has stolen his girlfriend and car, and he has nightmares of his best friend getting killed; but when he runs into Harper, a girl who has despised him since middle school, life actually starts looking up.
- The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson — Hayley Kincaid and her father Andy (who suffers from PTSD) move back to their hometown to try and live a “normal” life, but the horrors that Andy saw in Iraq threatens to destroy their live.
- Great Falls by Steve Watkins — Shane has always worshiped his big brother, Jeremy. But three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken their toll, and the easy-go-lucky brother Shane knew has been replaced by a surly drunk who carries his loaded 9mm with him everywhere and lives in the basement because he can’t face life with his wife and two small children. When Jeremy shows up after Shane’s football game and offers to take him to the family cabin overnight, Shane goes along both to get away from a humiliation on the field and to keep an eye on Jeremy, who is AWOL from his job at Quantico and seems to have a shorter fuse than ever. But as the camping trip turns into a days-long canoe trip down the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Shane realizes he’s in way over his head and has no idea how to persuade Jeremy to return home and get the help he needs before it’s too late. In a novel at once gripping and heartbreaking, Steve Watkins offers a stark exploration of the unseen injuries left by war.
To request these books or find more novels featuring the effects of war, visit our online catalog.