Following the News: YA Books Set During the World War One

Following the News: YA Books Set During the World War One

Sunday, November 11, 2018 was the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. I have been reflecting on what humanity has learned in the last century and sometimes it feels as if we are absolutely nowhere. The Washington Post had an article this week on why is is so important to learn about the First World War especially in 2019.

I also realized that there don’t seems to be a ton of YA books written about WWI. I mean, we have all had to read All Quiet On the Western Front but other than that… slim pickings. I think that it has to do with the less clear cut “right” and “wrong” of WWI as opposed to WWII. Important to remember especially in the context of the world today that the root causes and sustaining force of WWI was nationalism.

"Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism," he said through a translator. "Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values."
-French President Emmanuel Macron November 11th, 2018

I thought I would put together a list of titles in case anyone else is looking for books like this.

Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath

Like Water on Stone
by Dana Walrath

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: November 11th 2014
Rating: The Armenian Genocide, Magical Realism, and a novel in verse I am getting choked up just thinking about it.

From Goodreads:

We eagles sing no soothing songs.
Our throats can only whistle.
Instead, we hunt them down,
take them from others.

Blending magical realism and lyrical free verse, this is an intense survival story of three siblings caught up in the horrific events of the Armenian genocide of 1915.

It is 1914, and the Ottoman Empire is crumbling into violence.

Beyond Anatolia, in the Armenian Highlands, Shahen Donabedian dreams of going to New York. Sosi, his twin sister, never wants to leave her home, especially now that she is in love. At first, only Papa, who counts Turks and Kurds among his closest friends, stands in Shahen's way. But when the Ottoman pashas set their plans to eliminate all Armenians in motion, neither twin has a choice.

After a horrifying attack leaves them orphaned, Shahen and Sosi flee into the mountains, carrying their little sister, Mariam. Shahen keeps their parents' fate a secret from his sisters. But the children are not alone. An eagle named Ardziv watches over them as they run at night and hide each day, making their way across mountain ridges and rivers red with blood.

Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne

Stay Where You Are and Then Leave
by John Boyne

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Stand Alone
Published: September 26th 2013
Rating: This is a middle school favorite

From Goodreads:

‘It’s a big world, isn’t it?’ said Georgie. ‘Do you think they hate each other on other planets too?’

The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield's father promised he wouldn't go away to fight - but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn't know where his father might be, other than that he's away on a special, secret mission.

Then, while shining shoes at King's Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father's name - on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. Bewildered and confused, Alfie realises his father is in a hospital close by - a hospital treating soldiers with an unusual condition. Alfie is determined to rescue his father from this strange, unnerving place . . . 

Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics Edited by Chris Duffy

Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics
Edited by Chris Duffy

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: July 15th 2014 
Rating: Really powerful

From Goodreads:

That feeling of inadequacy in the face of warrior’s tales is hard to dismiss. Soldiers experience things civilians can only try to understand.

As the Great War dragged on and its catastrophic death toll mounted, a new artistic movement found its feet in the United Kingdom. The Trench Poets, as they came to be called, were soldier-poets dispatching their verse from the front lines. Known for its rejection of war as a romantic or noble enterprise, and its plainspoken condemnation of the senseless bloodshed of war, Trench Poetry soon became one of the most significant literary moments of its decade. 

The marriage of poetry and comics is a deeply fruitful combination, as evidenced by this collection. In stark black and white, the words of the Trench Poets find dramatic expression and reinterpretation through the minds and pens of some of the greatest cartoonists working today.

With New York Times bestselling editor Chris Duffy (Nursery Rhyme ComicsFairy Tale Comics) at the helm, Above the Dreamless Dead is a moving and illuminating tribute to those who fought and died in World War I. Twenty poems are interpreted in comics form by twenty of today's leading cartoonists, including Eddie Campbell, Kevin Huizenga, George Pratt, and many others.

The Lie by Helen Dunmore

The Lie
by Helen Dunmore

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: May 8th 2014

From Goodreads:

A man stuck in the mud can’t free himself.

Set during and just after the First World War, The Lie is an enthralling, heart-wrenching novel of love, memory and devastating loss by one of the UK’s most acclaimed storytellers.

Cornwall, 1920, early spring.
A young man stands on a headland, looking out to sea. He is back from the war, homeless and without family. Behind him lie the mud, barbed-wire entanglements and terror of the trenches. Behind him is also the most intense relationship of his life.

Daniel has survived, but the horror and passion of the past seem more real than the quiet fields around him. He is about to step into the unknown. But will he ever be able to escape the terrible, unforeseen consequences of a lie?

Stories of World War One by Tony Bradman

Stories of World War One
by Tony Bradman

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: April 3rd 2014
Rating: short stories

From Goodreads:

In this collection of short stories, 12 award-winning authors take you to the heart of the trenches and beyond - with powerful accounts of Zeppelin raids and front-line fighting, along with stories of everyday life lived under extraordinary circumstances. With tales of inspiring bravery, heartbreaking loss and overwhelming hope, this remarkable anthology brings to life the major events of World War One at home and around the globe.

The noise was so terrible, I thought our brains would burst, or the sky would crack, and all the time it was the screams and moans of wounded and dying soldiers which never seemed to go away.

The Year It All Ended by Kirsty Murray

The Year It All Ended
by Kirsty Murray

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: August 2014
Rating: surprisingly fluffy

From Goodreads:

All those bells tolling, the shouts and engine whistles, the beating of drums and saucepans on a warm spring evening could mean only one thing. Peace.

On Armistice Day 1918 Tiney Flynn turns seventeen and it feels as though her life is just beginning. Her brother and his friends are coming home from the Great War and her sisters are falling in love. But Tiney and her family find that building peace is far more complicated than they could ever have imagined.

Tiney's year will hold a world of new experience, from tragedy to undreamt-of joy, from seances to masked balls and riots in the streets. At the end of a war and the dawn of the jazz age, Tiney Flynn will face her greatest fears and begin a journey that will change her destiny.

'The story of [the sisters'] struggles to come to terms with grief, anxiety, and unbearable loss at the same time as trying to forge some kind of realistic future is tough and believable and ultimately heartwarming.

War Girls by Adèle Geras, Theresa Breslin, Matt Whyman, Mary Hooper, Rowena House, Melvin Burgess, Berlie Doherty, Anne Fine, Sally Nicholls

War Girls
by Adèle Geras, Theresa Breslin, Matt Whyman, Mary Hooper, Rowena House, Melvin Burgess, Berlie Doherty, Anne FineSally Nicholls

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: June 5th 2014 
Rating: Chances are you don’t know these women and that is a shame for all of us.

From Goodreads:

It’s ironic that some plants thrive in soil that has been displaced. Due to the devastation around us, these flowers bloom profusely, yet I find their tenacity and beauty uplifting.

1914: War has broken out across Europe and beyond. Nothing will ever be the same again for those caught up in the conflict.

This collection of short stories explores how the First World War changed and shaped the lives of women forever. A courageous nurse risks her life at the Front Line; a young woman discovers independence and intrigue in wartime London; and a grief-stricken widow defends her homeland amidst the destruction of war.

Through these and other tales, War Girls presents a moving portrait of loss and grief, and of hope overcoming terrible odds.

Without Warning: Ellen's Story, 1914-1918by Dennis Hamley

Without Warning: Ellen's Story, 1914-1918
by Dennis Hamley

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: October 9th 2007
Rating: TBR

From Goodreads:

"I don’t know much about wars except soldiers and sailors get killed and Jack might get killed with them. But grown-up people say . . . they’re a chance for young men to go off to foreign parts and be brave and come home heroes."

England, 1914. The piercing tone of the bugle changes a sleepy British village and Ellen Wilkins forever. It is the call to enlist — a chance Ellen’s brother, Jack, won’t miss. The call also spurs Ellen to leave the safety of home and begin a journey of self-discovery, one that takes her close to the front lines to pursue her calling as a nurse. In this gritty and insightful novel, Dennis Hamley deftly portrays the everyday realities of life in wartime, along with harrowing accounts of war’s lifelong effects on the young people caught in its path.

There’s a war starting. I don’t know much about wars except soldiers and sailors get killed and Jack might get killed with them. But grown-up people say different — that wars are nothing really; they’re a chance for young men to go off to foreign parts and be brave and come home heroes and, besides, the Hun needs a taste of his own medicine, going through Belgium and killing all the babies and the nuns.

Poppy by Mary Hooper

by Mary Hooper

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Poppy #1
Published: May 8th 2014 
Rating: TBR

From Goodreads:

England, 1914. Poppy is fifteen, beautiful and clever, but society has already carved out her destiny. There's no question of her attending the grammar school - it's too expensive and unsuitable for a girl. Instead, Poppy will become a servant at the big house. And she'll 'keep out of trouble'. But Poppy's life is about to be thrown dramatically off course. The first reason is love - with someone forbidden, who could never, ever marry a girl like her. The second reason is war. Nothing could have prepared her for that. As she experiences what people are capable of - the best of humanity and the very worst - Poppy will find an unexpected freedom and discover how to be truly her own person.

Mrs Trevin-Jones actually had a son fighting at the front, so her views on the war were treated with the utmost respect. Young Peter Trevin-Jones had not won any medals yet but the stories of his exploits suggested that it could only be a matter of time.

Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks

Harlem Hellfighters 
by Max Brooks

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: April 1st 2014 
Rating: It is a graphic novel about WWI by the author of World War Z. we all need and deserve this in our lives.

From Goodreads:

That woulda been a helluva nice story.
But the truth’s got an ugly way of killin’ nice stories.

In 1919, the 369th infantry regiment marched home triumphantly from World War I. They had spent more time in combat than any other American unit, never losing a foot of ground to the enemy, or a man to capture, and winning countless decorations. Though they returned as heroes, this African American unit faced tremendous discrimination, even from their own government. The Harlem Hellfighters, as the Germans called them, fought courageously on--and off--the battlefield to make Europe, and America, safe for democracy.

In THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS, bestselling author Max Brooks and acclaimed illustrator Caanan White bring this history to life. From the enlistment lines in Harlem to the training camp at Spartanburg, South Carolina, to the trenches in France, they tell the heroic story of the 369th in an action-packed and powerful tale of honor and heart.

Do you have any suggestions for this list? I am always looking for more!