3 New YA Historical Novels by Women of Color

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March is Women’s History Month, and what better way to celebrate than by reading some amazing historical fiction written by women of color? I have always loved historical fiction because it shines a light on characters and moments that history books tend to overlook, and these three picks do just that. Get ready to explore three time periods that have either been overlooked, or characters who’ve lived through history but haven’t gotten their due, in these YA historical novels by women of color!

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Lily has grown up in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and her life is orderly and somewhat predictable, but deep down she knows that she’s different. When she catches sight of an ad for a male impersonator at the Telegraph Club, she can’t stop thinking about it. Then, a chance encounter with a white classmate named Kath leads Lily and Kath to sneak out and explore the Telegraph Club for themselves. What they discover there — and about themselves — will change Lily’s life forever. I adored this book about the (under-represented in YA) queer history of 1950s San Francisco, and Lo did a brilliant job of presenting a moving coming-of-age story filled with fascinating historical detail and vivid settings.

Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink

Isaiah and Angel are two very different teens living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921. Isaac is seen as a troublemaker, but he loves books and writes poetry. Angel appears quiet and withdrawn, but she is hiding the fact that her father is dying and her family is in dire financial straits. When their English teacher offers them both the chance to work her mobile library, they agree and begin to learn more about one another. It’s not long before Isaiah begins to look forward to the time he spends with Angel, but then on May 31 a violent mob attacks the residents of Greenwood, resulting in a massacre that will change their lives — and the lives of their community members — forever.

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

Valora Luck dreams of a better life when she purchases a ticket aboard the Titanic’s maiden voyage, determined to join her twin brother, who has spent two years at sea, and audition before a famous circus owner. But when she’s turned away for being Chinese, Valora realizes she’ll have to get creative. Luckily, as an acrobat, she’s adept at slipping into places she shouldn’t be and she stows away…but when the ship encounters an iceberg, suddenly it’ll take all of Valora’s luck, skill, and determination to just survive. This book is out May 4, and I can’t wait — all of Stacey Lee’s historical novels are rich, exciting, and fully realized.

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