Be sure to check out some of these books for a teen perspective from different places and cultures around the world.
Alegria, M. (2007). Sofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico. New York: Simon and Schuster.
|Alegria, M. (2007). [Cover art]. Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico. New York: Simon and Schuster. Retrieved from www.goodreads.com|
In this story Sofi, a Mexican-American, who has grown up in California crosses the Mexican border to attend a party. When she can’t get back into the United States because of an error in her documentation, she is forced to stay with relatives in Mexico while her paperwork is straightened out with Immigration in the USA. This novel depicts life in rural Northern Mexico from the eyes of an American teenager.
Alexie, S. (2007). The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little Brown.
|Alexie, S. (2007). [Cover art]. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little Brown. Retrieved from www.goodreads.com|
This story takes place in the United States, but it follows Junior, an American Indian teenager, who is finding himself torn between his life on the Reservation near Spokane, Washington and his life at the local high school where he is the only American Indian student. The story depicts life on an American Indian Reservation.
Beah, I. (2007). A Long Way Gone: A Memoir of a Boy Soldier. New York: Sarah Crichton Books.
|Beah, I. (2007). [Cover art]. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Sarah Crichton Books. Retrieved from www.goodreads.com|
Ishmael was kidnapped by his government in Sierra Leon (Africa) at the age of 12 and forced to fight as a soldier in the Civil War. He was given drugs, guns, and forced to commit horrible crimes against his fellow countrymen, women, and children. This is his first hand account of what happened. An eye-opening account from a former child-soldier.
Bartoletti, S. C. (2008).The Boy who Dared. New York: Scholastic.
Bartoletti, S. C. (2008). [Cover art]. The Boy who Dared. New York: Scholastic.Retrieved from www.goodreads.com
Helmut is a sixteen year old boy in Germany during Hitler's rise to power. When he discovers the truth about the Nazi Party's rise in Germany he tries to get the truth out to the people. Because of his actions he is tried for treason and ends up on death row.
Dau, J. B. (2010). Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan. New York: National Geographic Books for Children.
|Dau, J.B. (2010). [Cover art]. Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan. New York: National Geographic Books for Children. Retrieved from www.goodreads.com|
John and Martha, both orphaned by the Civil War in Sudan, recount harrowing trips out the Sudan and to the United States. This story is not an easy read and includes death, disease, war, and starvation, but you will learn an important lesson of survival, hope, and determination. In the end you will be cheering for John, Martha and the rest of the lost boys and girls from this conflict in the early 1990's.
Ho, M. (2005). The Stone Goddess. New York: Scholastic.
|Ho, M. (2005). [Cover art]. The Stone Goddess. New York: Scholastic. Retrieved from www.goodreads.com|
During the communist takeover of Cambodia in the 1980's, Nakri is forced out of her happy life and her family is torn apart. She and her siblings are taken to child labor camps and her father is kidnapped by the army. Eventually she and her family are able to reunited and relocate to the United States, but the memories of the takeover remain with her.
Mikaelson, B. (2004). Tree Girl. New York: Harper Teen.
|Mikaelson, B. (2004). [Cover art]. Tree Girl. New York: Harper Teen. Retrieved from www.goodreads.com|
Gabi, a happy Mayan teen, watches her entire village massacred by the Guatemalan government one day in the 1980's while she is climbing a tree. She is able to escape, but knows most of her family is dead. In hopes that she might find her sister alive, she must make the long dangerous trip to safety at the Mexican boarder. This is a story of survival and identity as Gabi must deny her Mayan ancestry in order to survive.
McCormick, P. (2006). Sold. New York: Disney-Hyperion.
|McCorkick, P. (2006). [Cover art]. Sold. New York: Disney-Hyperion. Retrieved from www.goodreads.com|
In Nepal Lakshmi is very poor but happy with her family. To help the family, she is sent to India to work as a maid. When she gets to India, she is actually enslaved and forced to work as a prostitute. Lakshmi must maintain hope if she is going to endure and triumph.
Perkins, M. (2010). Bamboo People. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing.
Perkins, M. (2010). [Cover art]. Bamboo People. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing.Retrieved from www.goodreads.com
Told from the point of view of two teen boys in Myanmar (Burma) this story tells of the conflict in that country from two different perspectives. Chiko comes from an educated family and must join the Burmese army. Ta is a Karen and fights with his dad against the Burmese. Will they form an unlikely alliance based on friendship not war? This book tells the story of a civil war that has been going on for years and has affected many lives.
Qamar, A. (2008). Beneath my Mother's Feet. New York: Anthem Books.
|Qamar, A. (2008). [Cover art]. Beneath my Mother's Feet. New York: Anthem Books.Retrieved from www.goodreads.com|
Pakistan: Nazia is a teenage girl whose working class family has always worked hard in order to save for her dowry. When her father is hurt in an accident, she and her mother are forced to become the family's breadwinners. This change brings into question her entire way of life and future. Will she be able to marry into a respectable family if she is working as a maid? Does she want to?
Sepetys, R. (2011). Between Shade of Grey. New York: Philomel Books.
Sepetys, R. (2011). [Cover art]. Between Shade of Grey. New York: Philomel Books. Retrived from www.goodreads.com
Lithuania, 1941: Lina is 15 when the Soviet Army invades. Her father is taken and she is sent to work under Stalin's orders. The story highlights the strength of hope and Lina fights to survive.
Smith, Z. (2001). White Teeth. New York: Vintage.
|Smith, Z. (2001). [Cover art]. White Teeth. New York: Vintage. Retrieved from www.goodreads.com|
Disclaimer: This novel was written for adults...themes and language are strong. This librarian read this book the summer after high school and it was such a wonderful experience that I had to share it. The story follows the lives of two middle aged men and their families, including teenage children, in England. The author, Zadie Smith, was only 23 when she published the novel. It gives us a comical glimpse into the lives of our counter-parts across the pond in the UK and insights into religion, race, and identity.