Seven YA Books to Get You Hyped for Punching Nazis

Hello everyone, and welcome back!

I’m still so behind on reading thanks to life, but given current circumstances, I thought a quick recommendation post might be in order. I also thought an early post might be in order, so my apologies if I’ve thrown off your sense of equilibrium. (It’s not Tuesday yet, sadly.)

I can’t speak to personal experience punching any Nazis, because I have tiny noodle arms so I have to rely on my dubious verbal wit (don’t worry, I’ll work on it), but for all of you, in any way you choose to resist white supremacists, here are some reads to inspire you to push (and punch) back!

Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf

So a couple of these picks will be totally on the nose, since there are books in YA that are just literally about fighting and resisting Nazis, and this duology is part of that.

It takes place in a “what if?” world where the Nazis won WWII, and a Jewish protagonist, Yael, who was the subject of some of their awful medical experiments grows up to become an agent of the resistance. Her mission: to win a cross-empire motorcycle race and get close enough to Hitler to kill him.

This duology is full of heartbreak, and I was maybe more into the character background and flashbacks than the main narrative, but there’s definitely some Nazi-disrupting goodness. It’s not easy in this setting (obviously), but I think that makes us appreciate Yael’s bravery even more.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief

The first country the Nazis occupied was Germany—a saying that seems timely given what’s happening in the US today. This book is a very obvious recommendation, because it takes place there during WWII.

This is a heartwrenching story about an orphaned girl, Liesel, who steals books, but it’s also a story about people who resist the Nazis. It’s a story about hope and survival and the importance of love in the face of horror.

This book will probably make you cry and definitely remind you how terrible Nazis are (if you need a reminder, that is) and how important it is to resist them, even when it’s very hard.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

This book is a book inspired by Black Lives Matter, and its protagonist, Starr, is a young woman who witnesses one of her friends being shot by a cop.

The fallout that happens in her life and her community is the meat of the novel, and it emphasizes racial tension as Starr negotiates this incident publicly both at her mostly-white prep school and in her mostly-black neighbourhood.

Starr’s family are a group of people who recognize and fight injustice, and Starr comes into her own on this through the course of the book. I think this is an important read, and I think it’ll inspire people to see and call out injustice around them. (Also, not for nothing: this is probably one of my favourite YA reads of the year, and it’s going to be a movie.) Plus, you know, currently dealing with white supremacists in the US, so it’s a good time to read about non-white people pushing back!

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Saints and Misfits

…speaking of, let’s talk about how Islamophobic the current American administration is, and how great it would be right now to read a book with some positive rep of Muslim teens and Muslims in general (Janna’s uncle is a great character with a great sense of humour).

Saints and Misfits is a slice-of-life about Janna, a Muslim hijabi teen who’s going through a lot of normal stuff (her first crush, her brother moving home and seriously dating a young woman she’s not sure about, etc.) and also some not-great but sadly usual stuff (a sexual assault and having to figure out how to deal with an abuser who’s always around).

Janna’s an admirably independent character who takes personal agency in all of her choices, and although the issue of sexual assault is definitely taken seriously in this book, she finds a way to push back against her abuser to be able to move forward with her life. (Plus Sausun’s methods of resistance are just amazing.) Let these strong young women get you hyped to be yourself and yell at Nazis!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

When white supremacists protest, strangely, no one seems to come in with the rubber bullets and extreme force. When First Nations people non-violently protest on their own ancestral lands—well, yeah, you know what happens.

For that and many other reasons, it’s important to read the story of Junior, a Native teen who decides to go to the high school in town instead of the one on the reservation. He struggles with feeling out of place, he struggles with the way this decision affects his friendships, and he struggles with wanting out of his life on the reservation even though he’s surrounded there by people he understands and cares about, while at school he’s always someone “other.”

This book is an important book, and it was also a book I especially enjoyed. Read it and get angry (or angrier, if it’s possible) about people who have every privilege and are still whining about it.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing

Last but certainly not least, because this is probably one of my favourite YA books, we have Two Boys Kissing.

In this book, two boys are kissing to try to set the world record for how long two people in the world have ever kissed. Their attempt is definitely more political than personal: the two boys in question have broken up. This is something they want to do for a million non-romantic reasons, most of them boiling down to not wanting themselves, or anyone, to have to live ashamed of who they are. And the very long kiss that they share, as it attracts spectators and the news of it reaches other young gay teens, touches the hearts of a lot of people.

No one should have to live ashamed of who they love, and no one should have to live in fear that domestic terrorists will murder them for not having the same sexuality. Read this, love these characters, get hyped to punch Nazis.

So yes. Read these. Get hyped. Fight back. Don’t let hate win. And for us allies (because although I’m a queer woman, I am also very white): speak out, stand up, and don’t let them get away with it. (And also, everyone, please be safe.)


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