3 Great YA Books Set in New Orleans

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Tirzah Price

Senior Contributing Editor

Most of Tirzah Price's life decisions have been motivated by a desire to read as many books as humanly possible. Tirzah holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has worked as an independent bookseller and librarian. She’s also the author of the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries, published by HarperTeen, and Bibliologist at TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations. Follow her on Twitter @TirzahPrice.

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Hey YA readers, get ready because we’re headed to New Orleans this week! Recently, a couple of books set in historical New Orleans have come across my desk, and they made me think about one of my favorite YA historical novels, also set in The Big Easy, so I decided we might as well get the full tour! We’re dialing it back to 1950, 1929, and 1872—let’s go!

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

This is one of my favorite books by Sepetys, and one of my favorite historical YA novels, period! It’s got a fantastic setting, fascinating characters, and a bit of a mystery at the center. The year is 1950 and Josie Moraine can’t wait to leave the French Quarter for college. She’s always been known as the daughter of a prostitute, and she wants something more out of life—never mind that the brothel’s madam has plans for Josie to take over her business and wants her to stay right where she is. But just as Josie’s secret plans to escape come together, a mysterious death in the French Quarter threatens to ruin everything.

The Boy in the Red Dress

The Boy in the Red Dress by Kristin Lambert

Set in 1929, Millie is running her family’s speakeasy while her aunt is out of town. It’s easy enough to do, especially when guests flock to their establishment to see Marion, their star performer whose red dress is iconic. So when a young woman shows up and begins asking questions about Marion and flashing a photo, Millie is evasive—and then that woman winds up dead outside the speakeasy. Millie knows Marion will be the first to be blamed, so she decides to take on the mystery herself, in order to protect Marion and to save her family’s speakeasy.

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

In 1872, Celine Rousseau finds safe refuge at a convent in New Orleans after fleeing Paris, but her new home contains more darkness than she could imagine. It’s the middle of carnival season, and girls are being murdered even as Celine tangles with Sébastien Saint Germain, the mysterious and alluring leader of an underground society. She suspects that he and his friends have something to do with the deaths, but finding out for certain will force her to confront her own dark past and put herself in unimaginable danger. If you like a dose of the supernatural with your historical fiction, this book is for you! Bonus: the sequel, The Damned, is out now!

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