The news cycle these days is exhausting, and you can’t be blamed for feeling some fatigue. It can be exhausting to be constantly on the defensive, whether it’s of yourself or of others. Here are some fiction picks that will inspire you to keep going.
Before We Were Free, by Julia Alvarez
Anita thinks her life in the Dominican Republic is nice, but her relatives keep emigrating to the U.S., and people around her are disappearing. What she doesn’t quite understand is that the president is becoming a dictator, and her parents may have a connection to an underground resistance. Let’s hope this history doesn’t repeat itself here.
My Chemical Mountain, by Corina Vacco
Think of this as Erin Brockovich for teens, except instead of someone speaking on their behalf, the teens are empowered to speak for themselves. Three best friends live in a poverty-stricken town where the air is full of toxic pollutants. While they like to boast about how macho they are for living on the edge, they’re all too aware of how dangerous it is, and spur a movement to change things.
Loving vs. Virginia, by Patricia Hruby Howell and Shadra Strickland
People talk about law and order, but what about justice? Just because something is a law doesn’t mean it should be. Slavery was a law, remember. Women not voting was a law. And so were anti-miscegenation, or anti-interracial marriage, laws. Richard and Mildred Jeter Loving were expelled from the state of Virginia for daring to marry (Richard was white; Mildred identified as black and Native American), and though they preferred to live a quiet life, they agreed to be the test case for a Supreme Court battle for a nationwide strikedown of all anti-miscegenation laws.
The Lines We Cross, by Randa Abdel-Fattah
This incredibly timely story is told from two points of view, that of Mina, a former refugee who has spent her adolescence in Australia, and Michael, whose parents are running an anti-immigration, anti-refugee organization. Mina is the new girl at Michael’s school, and she challenges all the notions he has taken for granted because they were taught to him by his parents.
The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Lots of dystopias these days seem like contemporary fiction, but thankfully this one seems a little further off and, let’s hope, avoidable. In future Brazil, cities are vertical, and the lowest caste citizens live on the bottom. June, whose stepmother is one of the most powerful women in the city, bands together with Enki, the newly elected Summer King (a position of great but fleeting honor, that ends a year later with the king’s execution), to challenge the city’s rules and assumptions.
Paperback $9.89 | $10.99
The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, by Margarita Engle
Think of Juan Francisco Manzano as Cuba’s Phillis Wheatley. He was a man born into slavery who suffered the indignity of being ripped away from his mother and forced to call another woman Mama. Manzano became a celebrated poet against the odds. This fictionalized biography is told in verse.
Paperback $11.04 | $12.99
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling
Two words: Dumbledore’s Army. Four more: Order of the Phoenix. Can you think of something cooler than a bunch of brave adults resisting evil? How about teenagers being inspired by those adults to create their own resistance group when the government decides to effectively shut down all the worthwhile parts of their education?