All books on this list are set during the Vietnam War. Some concern the lives of American soldiers serving; some imagine the experiences of Vietnamese civilians; others tell the stories of the families of soldiers and lives back home; all illuminate a fractious, deadly, and tragic conflict that tore at the hearts of two nations’ people.
Burg, Ann E. All the Broken Pieces. (YA Fiction Burg.A). 2010. Seventh grader Matt Pin is a child of war. Airlifted out of Vietnam by American soldiers and adopted by a loving American family, he carries within him inescapable visions of chaos: “the smell and the smoke and the sound of someone crying,” his mother’s “thin, shrill staccato” voice when she urged him away from her to safety “through sounds of whirring helicopters and open prayers,” and his 3 yr. old brother’s burned, dismembered body. At the center of these visions is a dark secret, one Matt keeps tightly wound up inside. Luckily, he has baseball, a talent for the piano, and a new, supportive family to see him through. This is an exceptionally beautiful novel that captures the physical and emotional wreckage left in the wake of the Vietnam War. Written in free verse form, the novel moves at a quick pace through sharp, disarmingly poetic fragments that fit Matt’s intense feelings of confusion. Everyone in this story has been disfigured in some way by the war. But, remarkably, many of the characters also reveal their persistent good hearts and act out of love towards one another in quiet, unexpected ways.
Couloumbis, Audrey. Summer’s End. (YA Fiction Coulo.A). 2005. Three teenaged cousins worry about their uncle who is missing in Vietnam, their brothers--the one who was drafted and the two who are dodging the draft, and the effects of their absence on the four generations gathered at the family farm in the summer of 1965.
Crist-Evans, Craig. Amaryllis. (YA Fiction Crist.C). 2003.
Jimmy and his older brother Frank share a love of surfing and their problems with a drunken father, until Frank turns eighteen and goes to Vietnam. "This is a powerful tale of family, forgiveness, and acceptance of what life throws in our paths - but ultimately, with its almost painful realism, this is the finest depiction of war we've yet seen for young readers." — KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review)
Hobbs, Valerie. Sonny’s War. (JrHigh Hobbs.V). 2002.
In the late 1960s, fourteen-year-old Cori's life is greatly changed by the sudden death of her father and her brother's tour of duty in Vietnam.
King, A.S. Everybody Sees The Ants. (YA Fiction King.A). 2011.Overburdened by his parents' bickering and a bully's attacks, fifteen-year-old Lucky Linderman begins dreaming of being with his grandfather, who went missing during the Vietnam War, but, are they dreams? Lucky has noticed that when he awakens, he's holding an object given to him by his grandfather in the dream. During an impromptu visit to Arizona, his mother, the surprising antics of his aunt and uncle and their beautiful neighbor, Ginny, help him find a deep, new perspective. Lucky's sad pawing-through the waters of depression, familial dissolution, and the legacy of war is strange, with laugh out loud moments, and takes a brave look at bullying, misogyny and temper. Great themes, great story: pick it up for a surprising read.
King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis. (Fiction King.S). 1999.
“An intricate and compelling tapestry of the `60s and those who came of age during that turbulent decade…after reading a few pages, most teens will be hard-pressed to put it down. The characters are compelling and well drawn, the action is ingeniously interwoven from story to story, and the feel of the 60s, and the baggage carried into later decades, is vivid, harsh, and absolutely true.” (School Library Journal).
Kurlansky, Mark. Battle Fatigue. (YA Fiction Kurla.M). 2011.
Joel Bloom chronicles his life experiences during the 1960's which eventually lead him to oppose the war in Vietnam and to flee to Canada rather than be forced to kill Vietnamese.
Lai, Thanha. Inside Out & Back Again. (J Lai.T). 2011
Hà and her family flee war-torn Vietnam for the American South. In spare
yet vivid verse, she chronicles her year-long struggle to find her
place in a new and shifting world. (Also available as an eBook).
Myers, Walter Dean. Fallen Angels. (YA Fiction Myers.W). 1988.
Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, just out of his Harlem high school, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam. One of the top 100 banned or challenged books of all time (according to the American Library Association), Fallen Angels is a grisly account of war from one of YA’s most prolific and engaging writers.
O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. (YA Fiction Obrie.T). 1990. One of the greatest novels ever written about war, The Things They Carried follows a platoon of young men who carry the emotional weight of their lives to war in Vietnam. A powerful account of a modern journey into the heart of darkness and the power of stories to keep us afloat even as we drown, the violence, stress, and confusion of the Vietnam War has never been so powerfully depicted as they are here in these 22 interconnected stories.
Schmidt, Gary D. The Wednesday Wars. (YA Fiction Schmi.G) 2007.
During the 1967 school year, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker's classroom where they read the plays of William Shakespeare and Holling learns much of value about the world he lives in. Don't miss the sequel, Okay For Now.
Shahan, Sherry. Purple Daze. (YA Fiction Shaha.S). 2011.Six high school students in a high school in Los Angeles in 1965 express their experiences and feelings in journal entries, notes, letters and poems.
Smith, Andrew. In the Path of Falling Objects. (YA Fiction Smith.A). 2009.
In 1970, after their older brother is shipped off to Vietnam, sixteen-year-old Jonah and his younger brother Simon leave home to find their father, who is being released from an Arizona prison, but soon find themselves hitching a ride with a violent killer.
Tran, G.B. Vietnamerica: One Family’s Journey. (YA B Tran.G Tran.G). 2010.
A memoir in graphic novel format about the author's experiences as the son of Vietnamese immigrants who fled to America during the fall of Saigon describes how he learned his tragic ancestral history and the impact of the Vietnam War on his family while visiting their homeland years later.
Caputo, Philip. A Rumor of War. (959.7043 Caput.P 1996). 1977.
A classic work of Vietnam War literature, A Rumor of War is about "the things men do in war and the things war does to men." Sent to South Vietnam in 1965 as an infantry lieutenant in the United States Marine Corp, Philipo Caputo is a party to massacre; witnesses the death of friends; and is transformed from an idealistic glory-seeking young man to an angry, unremorseful, unfeeling man. Powerful and influential, A Rumor of War changed the way America viewed the men sent to fight in that ruinous conflict.
Caputo, Philip. 10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War. (YA 959.7043 Caput.P). 2005.
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Philip Caputo writes about America's most controversial war, the Vietnam war, that lasted ten thousand days. Includes photographs, anecdotes from soldiers and civilians, and profiles and accounts of the actions of many historical luminaries, both American and Vietnamese.
Carroll, James. An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us. (B Carro.J Carro.J). 1996.
When James Carroll was growing up, his father was a high-ranking official first in J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, then later at the Pentagon during the 1960s. Carroll was eventually awakened by the moral and spiritual calls of Martin Luther King, Jr., the rifts within the Catholic Church, and the controversies of the Vietnam War. Carroll’s awakening caused a deep rift between himself and his father. All of these events are reflected on with great storytelling from Carroll in An American Requiem. It’s a thoughtful, sensitive portrait of a tumultuous era that called into question for Carroll the intricacies of faith and family and what it means to be a son, a man, and a father.
Kohler, Dean. Rock ‘N Roll Soldier. (YA 959.7043 Kohle.D). 2009.
Drafted to serve in Vietnam, Dean Kohler forms a rock band while on tour in that country and plays gigs in the different cities along their route. A memoir of the war as seen through the eyes of a musician determined to make music, even while on the edge of battle.
Terry, Wallace. Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War. (959.7043 Bloods).1985.
Twenty black soldiers detail their brutal war experiences and consider how their service affected not only themselves, but also their families and friends.
Warren, Andrea. Escape From Saigon: How A Vietnam War Orphan BecameAn American Boy. (YA 959.7043 Warre.A). 2004.
Chronicles the experiences of an orphaned Amerasian boy from his birth and early childhood Saigon through his departure from Vietnam in the 1975 Operation Babylift and his subsequent life as the adopted son of an American family in Ohio.
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