Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Prohibition: Books about the Jazz Age

On January 16, 1919, the 18th amendment was ratified and Prohibition was born. The Roaring 20s is a bit of a hotspot for YA historical fiction at the moment, much to my delight.


The Diviners by Libba Bray. After saying something she shouldn't, Evie is sent to live with her uncle until the scandal dies down. At her uncle's museum in New York, Evie meets a wide cast of characters with their own stories and secrets, while they try to track down a serial killer. Evie knows her special powers could help solve the case, but she'd party and drink and forget she even has them in the first place. The first in a series, but the second one's not out yet.

Bright Young Things by Anna Godberson. On Cordelia Gray's wedding night, she leaves her new husband behind as she runs away with her best friend Letty. Leaving rural Ohio behind them, they're bound for New York, where Letty wants to be a star, and Cordelia is convinced that a famous bootlegger is her father. The first in a series, follow it with Beautiful Days.

Vixen by Jillian Larkin. Gloria wants to break free of her restrictive parents, cut her hair, smoke, and drink, but at 17, she already has a stuffy fiance. But with a best friend who wants to be her, a country cousin with her own secrets, and a very alluring jazz pianist, well... anything can happen, and it does. Be sure to have the second book in the series, Ingenue ready to go.


Hattie Ever After by Kirby Lawson. In this sequel to Hattie Big Sky, Hattie has left Montana for San Francisco, hoping to make her way as a reporter in the big city. This title will be available next month.

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin. Spending the summer at Excelsior, a summer resort in Minnesota, Garnet is quickly bored and talks her guardian into letting her have a job. She then meets and falls in love with Isabella, a dancer at the forbidden dance hall.

Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber. When Lily's father moves to Kansas city to open a new shoe store, he doesn't take her with him. Instead, he hires her out to be a companion to an elderly woman in rural Missouri. Though the situation isn't ideal, Iris finds a way to make it work, surrounding herself with a new family of sorts.


The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Sorry, you can't talk about jazz age fiction and not include this one. It's also a "school book" that many teens actually like. I know my friends and I loved it in high school, and it should definitely be read before the movie comes out this spring.

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition by Karen Blumenthal. Prohibition is an odd subject for nonfiction for tweens, but Blumenthal pulls it off. The book is excellent at explaining how drinking in the US was different before Prohibition (kids getting whiskey for breakfast!) And how Prohibition (unintentionally) made things much more dangerous.

What are you favorite jazz age books for kids?

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