Sepetys writes about those little-known periods of history that really should be brought to light. Her latest book is set in Madrid, Spain in 1957 under the rule of ruthless dictator Francisco Franco. The wealthy flood to this seemingly sunny land in search of a good time while life is anything but for most Spaniards. Eighteen-year-old Daniel has traveled from Texas with his parents, his father - an oil tycoon and his mother who is anxious to visit the country of her birth. Daniel’s father expects him to enter the family business, but Daniel’s passion is photography and he sets out to capture the heart of Spain in photos and win a college art scholarship. Ana is a maid at the Hilton Hotel where Daniel’s family is staying and is assigned to “serve” his family. Her father was killed and her mother imprisoned by Franco for working with the resistance movement. Trying to keep her head down, she needs this job to support her siblings, but she finds herself trying to help Daniel with his photography and eventually getting drawn into dangerous activities, losing her job. Mystery, the dark side of this period of Spain’s history, and forbidden romance all make this novel a delicious read for high school students.
Mercy Wong has faced discrimination and poverty living in San Francisco’s Chinatown her entire 15 years. Determined to get the best education possible, she sets her sights on an all-white girl’s school, St. Clare’s, and manages to get accepted with a little bit of deceit and bribery. More discrimination by the school’s wealthy white girls rules each day, until the historic San Francisco earthquake of 1906 destroys the school, the city and Mercy’s home. Now, all the girls are on an even playing field as they must wait in the local park for days to reunite with any surviving family members. But Mercy isn’t good at waiting, especially when fires are raging and collapsed buildings and roads are everywhere. Always self-driven, Mercy sets out to help restore order and help those who are suffering, drawing forth admiration from those who formerly handed out only discrimination.
Uprising – Margaret Peterson Haddix – Historical Fiction
Three teens, a horrible fire, and one survivor.
Life is hard for two of these teens, employed by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City in 1911. Bella is an Italian immigrant who doesn’t speak English. Yetta, a Russian immigrant, wants better working conditions for all. All employees, including Bella and Yetta, work under horrible conditions – the hours are very long, sometimes the clock is turned back so they have to work even longer, their pay is reduced for the slightest mistake, and they have to be frisked when they leave each evening to make sure they aren’t stealing anything. As conditions worsen, Yetta leads the employees’ efforts to strike and meets rich-girl Jane on the picket line, who is supporting women’s suffrage. Through a twist of events, the girls become friends and are all in the locked factory on March 25, 1911, the day of the horrible fire. As 146 people lose their lives, only one of the three teens survives.