There are many kinds of protagonists with interesting backgrounds and experiences in YA fiction. If you are interested in exploring characters that are Jewish or have Jewish-related experiences, then these five YA books have the perfect protagonists that can give you the rundown of their experiences and journies.
1. From Dust, A Flame – Rebecca Podos
Hannah’s life consisted of leaving rental homes, relationships, and never looking back. Her mother kept her and her brother, Gabe, on the road. They were always moving. No roots, family, and no explanations. But a huge change on her seventeen birthday makes her suddenly cursed. Her eyes are gold and her pupils are knife-slits. With more mutations arising, her mother promises to seek help to cure this curse. She leaves them for weeks, and soon Hannah and Gabe realize they must seek the truth on their own.
They don’t expect to find a family they never knew. They discover a tragic history with fantastical moments and all from her grandmother’s childhood past under Nazi rule in Prague. Beyond the Jewish mysticism, Hannah must try to find the family secrets to break the curse in time.
2. This Rebel Heart – Katherine Locke
Csilla knows the river is magic. This river kept her family safe from the Holocaust. That was before the communists seized power, her parents were murdered by Soviet soldiers, and that she learned about her dad’s legacy.
She plans to escape her country, but her parents are exonerated and protests begin to surge. The talk of a Hungary revolution emerging. Can she believe in the magic and flaws of her country and risk her life to save it, or watch it all burn?
3. Sick Kids in Love – Hannah Moskowitz
Isabel has one sacred rule: no dating. It’s easier for others. She has secrets and rheumatoid arthritis. Then she meets another sick kid. He has a chronic illness she can’t even pronounce. He understands her more than her healthy friends and her dad who is a doctor. He is foul-mouthed, gorgeous, and definitely into her. It’s dangerous this feeling, but can she break her sacred rule just this once?
4. Color Me In – Natasha Diaz
A coming of age novel that is told through the own author’s experience. It has the meaning of friendship, romance, racism, and religious intolerance that can strain and strengthen a family. Nevaeh Levitz grew up in the New York suburbs, at the age of sixteen she never thought of her biracial roots. But when her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she is moving to Harlem where her mother grew up.
She wants to know her extended family but her appearance in ‘passing’ makes one of her cousins see her as a person with privilege. With the making of her bat mitzvah, going to a private school, witnessing prejudice befall her family, falling in love, and discovering her mother’s secrets; she must forge her path and find her voice.
5. The Fever King – Victoria Lee
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Alvaro is in a hospital bed as the sole survivor of a viral magic attack. His family is killed and he has become a technopath. They have the ability to control technology. This attracts the attention of the minister of defense. He is suddenly transported into a world where the magical elite nation of Carolinia wants to take him in.
As the son of undocumented parents, he spent his time fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magic attacks. Carolinia deports refugees viciously. He accepts the minister’s offer to teach the science behind the magic, so he can secretly use it against the government. When meeting the minister’s dangerous, cruel, handsome son, the way forward is unclear. Will he be able to go with his plan? Based on the Webtoon, created by the same author, this science fiction novel will have you on your toes.
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