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.
Ink and Ashes – Valynne E Maetani – Mystery, Realistic, Romance
Sixteen-year-old Claire Takata barely remembers her father, who passed away ten years ago. She adores her stepfather, but when Claire discovers an old letter written by her father to her stepfather, she wonders why her mother and stepfather have kept this “friendship” secret. Claire and her brothers gradually piece together clues that lead to discovering their father was involved with the yakuza, a Japanese organized crime organization. This knowledge puts Claire and her family in danger as she is stalked by a black SUV and receives coded messages understood only by someone knowledgeable in Japanese culture. As her friendship with best friend, Forrest, begins to turn romantic, the mystery and danger intrude upon her life at school when she becomes the target of a teacher’s anger. But Claire is determined to solve this mystery on her own terms.