Jewish Themes: Books for Teens

Jewish fiction
Jewish nonfiction

Jewish Fiction

Abraham, Pearl. The Romance Reader. 1995.
Rachel, a reader of romance novels, breaks the rules of her Hasidic parents with her visits to libraries and her growing independence of mind.
Atlan, Liliane. The Passersby. 1993 .
As a teenage Jewish girl struggles with anorexia, her decisions about whether or not to live affect those close to her and are influenced by survivors of the Holocaust.
Baer,Edith. A Frost in the Night. 1980.
A Jewish girl in 1932 Germany observes disturbing changes in the adults around her as Hitler rises to power. An autobiographical novel.
Baer,Edith. Walk the Dark Streets. 1998.
A sequel to A Frost in the Night..
Bat-Ami, Miriam. Two Suns in the Sky. 1999.
Set in Oswego, New York where America's only WW II refugee accommodates Jews fleeing Europe, a 15-year-old Yugoslav Jew begins a romance with a local girl.
Demetz, Hana. The House on Prague Street. 1980.
This ingeniously-told tale is about Helene Richter, growing up in occupied Czecholslovakia.
Ehrenhaft, Daniel. Tell It to Naomi. 2004.
In an attempt to win the affection of a gorgeous senior girl, and to help his older sister launch her career in journalism, fifteen-year-old David Rosen, a socially awkward loner, pretends to be a female advice columnist for his school newspaper.
Elkeles, Simone. How to Ruin a Summer Vacation. 2007.
When the Israeli grandmother she never knew about gets sick, sixteen-year-old Amy Nelson's biological father overturns her summer plans and drags her off to Israel.
Greene, Bette. Summer of My German Soldier. 1973.
To help a German prisoner-of-war escape, 12-year-old Patty Bergen defies her abusive father and the prejudiced people of her small Arkansas town.
Kass, Pnina Moed. Real Time. 2004.
The characters in this story are followed up to and beyond the moment of a bus bombing in Israel. The inner lives of kibbutzniks, tourists, soldiers, and even the Palestinian teen who carries the bomb, reveal how political situations are composed of many overlapping personal situations.
Kerr, M.E. Gentlehands. 1978.
A powerfully written novel about a prosperous Dutch-Jewish family caught up in the German invasion of Holland during World War II.
Levitin, Sonia. The Return. 1987.
Desta, an Ethiopian Falasha Jew despised and ill-treated by the local people, undertakes an arduous journey toward a new home in Israel.
Levitin, Sonia. The Singing Mountain. 1998.
Seventeen-year-old Mitch decides not to return home to southern California from his summer trip to Israel, but to live and study at a yeshiva in Jerusalem instead of starting his first year at UCLA.
Levoy, Myron. Alan and Naomi. 1977.
A reluctant friendship gives way to real caring as Alan breaks through to Naomi, who struggles with memories of her father's murder by the Nazis.
Mazer, Harry. The Last Mission. 1979.
A 15-year-old boy lies about his age to enlist in the U.S. Air Corps during WWII and is taken prisoner by the Germans.
Miklowitz, Gloria D. The Enemy has a Face. 2003.
Netta and her family have relocated temporarily from Israel to Los Angeles, and when her seventeen-year-old brother mysteriously disappears, she becomes convinced that he has been abducted by Palestinian terrorists.
Nolan, Han. If I Should Die Before I Wake. 1994.
Sixteen-year-old Hilary, a neo-Nazi, lies wounded in a Jewish hospital. When she slips into a coma, she begins to relive the harrowing memories of Chana, a Jewish girl whose family was brutalized in the wartime ghettos and Nazi German camps in occupied Poland.
Nye, Naomi Shihab. Habibi. 1997.
When 14-year-old Liyanne Abhoud and her family move from St. Louis to a new home in the Palestinian village where her father was born, they must deal with the tensions between Jews and Palestinians.
Potok, Chaim. The Chosen. 1967.
A relationship that starts in the rivalry of a baseball game grows to strong friendship between two orthodox boys as one of the boys becomes involved in the other's conflict with his austere Hasidic rabbi father.
Reinhardt, Dana. A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life. 2006.
Simone Turner meets Rivka, her biological mother, and learns that Rivka is a Hasidic Jew who became pregnant at sixteen, was shunned by her family, became a photographer, and now suffers from terminal cancer.
Roth, Matthue. Never Mind the Goldbergs. 2005.
Headstrong Hava, a 17-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl, leaves her home in New York to be a token Jew on a TV show about a Jewish family that's being filmed in California.
Stein, Tammar. Light Years. 2005.
After the tragic death of her boyfriend in a suicide bombing, Maya Laor leaves her home in Israel to study astronomy at the University of Virginia.
Woodson, Jacqueline. If You Come Softly. 1998.
Fifteen-year-old Jeremiah, who is black and whose parents are separated, and Ellie, who is Jewish and whose mother has twice abandoned her, fall in love and then try to cope with people’s reactions. Sequel: Behind You

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Jewish Nonfiction

Atkinson, Linda. In Kindling Flame: The Story of Hannah Senesh. 1985.
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Personal papers and accounts from Hannah's mother are combined with historical backgound in a biography that follows Senesh from her Hungarian childhood and life in Palestine to her death at the hands of the Nazis.
Bitton Jackson, Livia. Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust. 1980.
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This is a true story of a young Jewish girl who at the age of thirteen had to face one of the toughest tests of all: the Holocaust.
Simon, Neil. Brighton Beach Memoirs. 1984.
Sex and baseball are the primary concerns of 15-year-old Eugene in this autobiographical play about a lower-middle class family coping during the depression.

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