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15 Books to Read If You Are Writing WWII // Part 1: Fiction

So there’s a lot of posts I’ve been promising lately, but they all need a lot of work, so while I crank them out, enjoy this one ;P

If you know me even a little, you probably know I’m a WWII aficionado. I read everything I can get my hands on that has any relation whatsoever to WWII. Nine-tenths of my TBR pile is WWII books, and many of my favourite books are set around 1930-1950.

So today, I’d like to introduce you to books you should really read if you’re writing WWII fiction. One, because they have interesting info and POVs and two, because they’ll help get you in the mindset/mood of WWII! Being the very organized and through person that I am, I’m giving you two lists: nonfiction and fiction. ;P Part 2 (nonfic) is coming at some point soon.

1. Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery.

British airman Dym Ingleford is convinced that the young German prisoner, Max Eckermann, is his brother Anthony who was kidnapped years before. Raised in the Nazi ideology, Tony has by chance tumbled into British hands. Dym has brought him back, at least temporarily, to the family he neither remembers nor will acknowledge as his own. As Tony keeps attempting to escape, his stubborn anger is whittled away by the patient kindness he finds at the White Priory. Then, just as he is resigning himself to stay with this English family, a new chance suddenly opens for him to return home—to Germany!

Yup, I said it. This is my top favourite novel and the best WWII fiction I have ever read. This book focusses on England but through the eyes of a Nazi-raised child. You learn a lot of what daily life was like at the time, and also something of the German POV and ideas. This doesn’t have a set date but it was published in 1943, so it’s set between 1939-1943.

Rating: 10/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

2. Lighten Our Darkness by Sarah Brazytis.

“I do not believe to live through this war; I have seen too many die to tell myself otherwise. I can be careful, but what is that? I am going to fight.”
A fighter pilot ready to die. A girl whose world has crumbled. A city bombed and broken. A country struggling for existence.
As a Polish fighter pilot serving in the RAF, Pilot Officer Jedrick Ondraski does not expect to survive the war with Nazi Germany; he only wants to avenge his family and homeland before he dies. But when he meets Helen Smith, a young American woman, during an air raid on a dark London street, the encounter forces him back into the world he has renounced. A marriage of convenience seems to be the only way for him to provide her a home and a life after the bombing that destroyed her tranquil home. Helen, destitute and alone, clings to him for help and comfort; but when he joins his squadron in aerial battle with the very enemy who destroyed his own country, there seems little hope of a future for either of them. As the Luftwaffe aggressively targets civilian London, the whole country braces for a Nazi invasion. And in the blackout of the London Blitz, two young souls reach out for life, love…and the One Who can lighten their darkness.
The first WWII historical novel by author and historian Sarah Brazytis, ‘Lighten Our Darkness’ will take you to the bombed streets of London, the barracks of the RAF, and the flak-riddled skies of the Battle of Britain.

Okay, y’all, I ADORED this book. It made me so happy! I love it so much that I almost started rereading it already. It was just basically perfect. But gushing aside—I loved the view of the war that this shows, as well as how it highlights an often-forgotten side of the war and of the RAF and the Battle of Britain. Sarah Brazytis did a fantastic job with this hisfic!

Rating: 9/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

3. The Questions of War Series by Jesseca Wheaton.

Spanning Europe, the Pacific, and America, these books tackle the harder questions of war (obviously) for both civilians, armed forces, and medical personnel. Although fiction, there’s a lot of history in them, and they also give a good picture of what it was like living in the War under various circumstances.

QOH Rating: 8/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

QOC Rating: 7/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

QOL Rating: 6/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

Pssssst…. There’s also a cute Christmas prequel, As in Olden Days (4/10 hearts). And if you really want a heartbreaker, Jesseca also wrote a short tearjerker called A Place Called Lonesome, all about D-Day… 8/10 hearts, y’all.

4. Listen for the Singing by Jean Little.

Anna faces prejudice that stems from her German heritage, and contends with small problems like her first school dance. Tragedy strikes when Anna’s brother, Rudi, is blinded, and it is her turn to provide the love and strength Rudi needs to face his new life.

This book is the sequel to From Anna (5/10 hearts), chronicling the story of a girl who immigrates to Canada during the Great Depression with her family, seeking freedom from mounting tyranny in Germany, and discovers help for her disability. It definitely should be read as a sequel. But anyhow, this book handles the difficulty of living as a German in North America during WWII (and has a beautiful message…) as well as the help military members needed after being injured.

Rating: 8/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

5. On the Edge of the Fjord by Alta Halverson Seymour.

No one dreamed that the Nazis would ever bother Valcos, the sleepy little Norwegian fishing village on the edge of the deep fjord. However, its happy, carefree life ended when Nazi officers quartered themselves in the Engeland home with the intention of securing Captain Engeland’s influential help. Petra Engeland, only fourteen, had good reason then to transfer her resourcefulness in mischief to grimmer tasks involving life or death, and her first undertaking was to warn her father, still away with the larger of the fishing boats, of the trap awaiting him.
Against a background of mountains, caves and fjords, Petra and her impetuous brother Martin—with numerous other Norwegians, young and old—take part in daring schemes right under the noses of the occupying forces.
Published before WW II was at an end, this tale retains its sense of immediacy and courage in the face of great adversity.

All right, so the virtue here is the characters. Alta Halverson Seymour writes some of the most lovable, living characters ever. She’s well worth studying. She also writes some of the most exciting adventures I’ve ever read—still gripping after a dozen rereads! I recommend reading her post-WWII novel The Tangled Skein as well, because it’s just as good, if not better, and handles the topics of Nazi sympathizers real and not real… 😉

Rating: 7/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

6. Jacobs Rescue by Malka Drucker & Michael Halperin.

Once Jacob Gutgeld lived with his family in a beautiful house in Warsaw, Poland. He went to school and played hide-and-seek in the woods with his friends. But everything changed the day the Nazi soldiers invaded in 1939. Suddenly it wasn’t safe to be Jewish anymore.

This story is beautiful and thought-provoking, and really digs into the heroism demanded of common people during WWII/the Holocaust—the choice between fear/self-preservation and choosing the right. It also touches on the conundrums of hiding Jews and surviving in the war-torn city.

Rating: 7/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

7. Waiting for Anya by Michael Morpurgo.

The gripping story of a boy who risks his life to take Jewish refugees to safety during World War II.
A reclusive widow’s farm has become a haven for a growing band of Jewish children hiding from the Nazis. Jo knows he must keep the secret, and help out any way he can. But when German soldiers move into town, the danger suddenly becomes much more real. As Jo knows all too well, the penalty for helping these children escape is death.

The thing I liked best about this was how well the author did the characters. There were good and bad Germans, good and bad French, and a disabled character—and the vices of the bad men made them worse than the Germans who were just doing their duty. This is a great book to analyze characters from!

Rating: 7/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

8. Brothers-in-Arms by Jack Lewis Baillot.

Can a Jew and a Nazi survive Hitler’s Germany? Franz Kappel and Japhet Buchanan never expected their friendship to be tested by the Third Reich. Friends from early childhood, the boys form an inseparable, brotherly bond. Growing up in a little German village, they escape most of the struggles of war until the day Japhet is banished from school for being a Jew, and later has a rib broken when other village boys beat him up. Franz learns he is putting himself in danger for spending so much time with Japhet but continues to stand up for his Jewish friend even at the risk to himself. Then one day their lives are shattered when they see first-hand that the price of being a Jew is dangerously high. With the war now on their doorsteps, Franz and Japhet come up with a desperate plan to save their families and get them out of Germany alive. Leaving behind the lives they’ve always known, they move into Berlin with nothing to protect them but forged papers and each other. Convinced their friendship can keep them going, the boys try and make a new life for themselves while trying to keep their true identities and Japhet’s heritage a secret. Taking his best friend’s safety upon himself, Franz joins the Nazis in an attempt to get valuable information. At the same time, Japhet joins the Jewish Resistance, neither friend telling the other of their new occupations. With everyone in their world telling them a Nazi and a Jew can’t be friends, it is only a matter of time before they believe all the lies themselves, until neither is certain if they are fighting against a race of people or fighting for their homeland. Somehow they have to survive the horrors of World War II, even when all of Germany seems to be against them.

What particularly struck me in this book was the themes and messages. You really see what it was like among the Nazis and what they taught… and how it messed with your head. You also see what the Resistance was like and what they thought. And it shows the moral and ethical dilemmas that shook people. This is a fantastic piece of fiction and I really recommend it if you’re writing anything about Nazi infiltration or Resistance work.

Rating: 6/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

9. The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum.

This acclaimed story of World War II is rich in suspense, characterization, plot and spiritual truth. Every element of occupied Holland is united in a story of courage and hope: a hidden Jewish child, an “underdiver,” a downed RAF pilot, an imaginative, daring underground hero, and the small things of family life which surprisingly carry on in the midst of oppression. The Verhagen family, who live in the old windmill called the Winged Watchman, are a memorable set of individuals whose lives powerfully demonstrate the resilience of those who suffer but do not lose faith.

This book was really very intriguing to me, since it was a POV that isn’t often explored—country life in occupied Holland from 1944-1945. It also focuses on daily life and dangers, as well as the underground resistance and hiding Allied soldiers and/or Jews.

Rating: 6/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

10. Untitled by Jesseca Wheaton.

Okinawa, 1945
Two brothers. Two separate paths.
A Navy corpsman assigned to the Marines, Jess Walker’s world is shaken as he struggles to aid the men around him. But the battlefield isn’t his hardest challenge. The nagging memory of how he lost his brother weighs on him, serving as a constant reminder of his failure. War has no mercy for anyone and Jess isn’t sure he can survive the war inside. As his world comes crashing down around him, he struggles to believe there is a future beyond the pain.
Clay Walker has moved on from the life he once lived. A successful Marine pilot, he wants nothing to do with his family and the God he left behind. Japan is on the brink of surrender when his unit is shipped off to Okinawa, and it’s there that Clay is forced to realize his past is not as deeply buried as he thought. Faced with heavy losses and questions without answers, Clay has a choice to make. Is he willing to step back and let God take the controls? Or is it too late for a second chance?
As WWII rages, the two brothers must face their demons—or be lost to the burning world around them.

To be perfectly honest, I added this book to the list because it did a good job portraying the horrors of war—graphically. It also did a good job handling non-Christian MCs. I still don’t think it’s necessary to include language because non-Christians use it—that’s my personal opinion and I just want to point that out in case someone questions that. But aside from that, this is a good resource for those two aspects of the war.

Rating: 6/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

11. Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan.

In the bleak winter of 1940, Nazi troops parachuted into Peter Lindstrom’s tiny Norwegian village and held it captive. Nobody thought the Nazis could be defeated—until Uncle Victor told Peter how the children could fool the enemy. It was a dangerous plan. They had to slip past Nazi guards with nine million dollars in gold hidden on their sleds. It meant risking their country’s treasure—and their lives. This classic story of how a group of children outwitted the Nazis and sent the treasure to America has captivated generations of readers.

This book is pretty light-hearted, but its value lies in the way it presents the Germans—showing their various temperaments—and for tackling the plight of the prisoners forced to serve in the German army.

Rating: 5/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

12. A Fathers Promise by Donna Lynn Hess.

Adolf Hitler’s ominous statements seem only a distant threat to eleven-year-old Rudi Kaplan. But when the Nazi forces invade Poland and bomb his home city of Warsaw, Rudi finds out that he is Hitler’s enemy not only because he is a Pole, but also because he’s a Jew–and a Christian. The next few years change Rudi’s life forever. With only his imprisoned father’s promise that they will be reunited after the war, Rudi must learn how to survive in hiding, how to be truly brave, and how to overcome the hatred of his enemies. He must learn to die to himself and to trust the God who is mightier than any army.

This book focuses on Poland from 1939-1945 from the point of view of a boy hiding in the forest with underground resistance fighters. It’s a great portrayal of how long the war lasted and what it felt like for people during that time. It also touches on the hardships of occupied cities and the realities of losing family and friends to the concentration camps.

Rating: 5/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

13. Finding Zasha by Randi Barrow.

Randi Barrow is back with another gripping heroic World War II story about a boy and his best friend, a German shepherd!
In 1941, the Germans began the long, bloody siege on Leningrad. During the chaos, twelve-year-old Ivan is sent to live with relatives when his mother’s job is moved to the mountains. But it is a long and dangerous journey to get out of Leningrad. After settling into a new town it falls under Nazi occupation and Ivan is picked by Axel Recht, an especially heinous soldier, to come work for the Nazis. One of Ivan’s more pleasant tasks is to train Alex’s dogs. Yet Ivan is determined to use his position to undermine the Nazis and rescue the dogs. But Ivan underestimates Axel’s attachment to Zasha and Thor, and soon finds himself being hunted by a ruthless soldier who will stop at nothing to get his dogs back. As World War II rages around them, Ivan must find a way to hide from Axel, protect Zasha and Thor, avoid the constant barrage of deadly bombings, and survive in the devastating conditions of a city cut off from the world.

Russian involvement in the war is a sadly underrepresented topic! This book fixes that issue. But it didn’t make it on that list only for that. It also did a fantastic job creating one of the most terrifying villains I have ever seen. (Wanna raise the stakes in your WWII novel? A German captain like Axel will keep your readers constantly unsure if your MC will make it out okay.) And I loved how the ending was so realistic. Another good lesson!

Rating: 5/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

Psst… there’s also a sequel called Saving Zasha, discussing post-war Russia where everything German is being eradicated, including German Shepherds…

14. Exiles from the War by Jean Little.

When a frightened girl and boy arrive on the Twiss family’s doorstep, to escape the Blitz, Charlotte wonders how she will keep her war guests from missing their parents back home, or from cowering every time a plane flies overhead. Though the war is being waged across the Atlantic, Charlotte begins to feel its danger, as her brother George defies their parents and enlists in the Navy. After months of receiving letters from overseas, suddenly there is no word from him — has the unthinkable happened and George’s ship been sunk by a German submarine?
Charlotte Twiss’s diary shows her innermost feelings about her life on the Canadian homefront, as she helps her war guests “settle in” and wonders whether her brother is safe from harm.

This made it on the list because it does such a great job presenting vintage WWII life & ideas, as well as the life of War Guests. By the way, my review is ages old, and not very good, but I did really love this book. ;P

Rating: 5/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

15. Shadows on the Sea by Joan Hiatt Harlow.

1942.
The U.S. is at war with Germany. Fourteen-year-old Jill Winter’s mother is traveling to Newfoundland and must pass through the treacherous North Atlantic, where German submarines—U-boats—stalk like wolves. Jill’s father, a famous pop singer, is on tour, so Jill is sent to Winter Haven, Maine, to stay with Nana.
Quarry, a local boy, says that “gossip ain’t never been so good,” and Jill soon discovers he’s right—Winter Haven is full of secrets and rumors. It seems everyone has something to hide—even Nana! Jill doesn’t know whom to trust, and she’s worried for her mother’s safety. And things get even worse when she finds a wounded carrier pigeon with a coded message attached to its leg.
Jill is determined to get to the bottom of all these mysteries, but when she uncovers the biggest secret of all, she finds herself in grave danger—and must run for her life!
Based upon startling historical events that took place in the harbors of Maine during World War II, the author of
Joshua’s Song delivers a fast-paced mystery that will keep readers guessing.

And our last book is on this list to tackle spies… 😉 and a suggestion to look for unknown WWII happenings or outside-the-box tropes! It’s also a good picture of how to alternate the WWII with the daily life and the struggles of war with the personal struggles of characters.

Rating: 5/10 hearts. Click here for full review.

There are three other books I could recommend as useful WWII reads, but since they didn’t make it to 5 star ratings, I didn’t want to officially recommend them. However, if you’re writing of the Holocaust, WAAF or cryptographers, and/or spies, you might want to check out Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, A Secret Courage by Tricia Goyer, and/or Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley.

And there’s your (very long) list of WWII fiction recommendation. Which one struck your fancy most? Have you any WWII recs for me?? I’m always looking for more. ;P

Published by Katja L.

Hello! :) I'm Katja. I'm a Canadian bibliophile, book reviewer, writer, and child of God. I love too many things to name, but among them are chocolate, heirlooms, history, fancy handwriting, grammar & punctuation, laughter, tearjerking books, lists, organized bookshelves, pink roses, flowing skirts, hymns, and pretty much anything old-fashioned, beautiful, & classy.

16 thoughts on “15 Books to Read If You Are Writing WWII // Part 1: Fiction

  1. Snow Treasure, and Finding Sasha were two of my favorite books when I was younger. I’m definitely going to have to check more of these out since I have an idea for a project that’s set in WW2. Thanks!! ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OOOH!! I’mma hafta add all these to my TBR!!! (As if I don’t have enough books to read already. XDDDD)

    ALSO. Have you read anything by Bodie Thoene or Sarah Sundin?? They write AMAZING Christian WWII fiction!! You would LOVE Bodie’s novels!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh, I love A Father’s Promise and The Winged Watchman! There are also several there that I’ve been wanting to read for so long. I love WWII stories!! A few more of my favorite during that time period are The Star Under the City by Maggie Joy, and A Soldier Finds Grace by Katherine St. Clair. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Those Anna Solden books have genuinely caught my entire attention. Perhaps it’s the WWII era and anti-German prejudice plot … but the girl’s bangs on the cover are so cute, and I want to know her pronto. 😀 Snow Treasure has remained one of my favorite books, period, and I did recently read A Father’s Promise. I also loved a different book by Joan Hiatt Harlow, so I am definitely interested in a WWII book by her.

    As for recommendations of my own, I can only echo Grace’s Thoene and Sundin suggestions. Suzanne Woods Fisher’s Copper Star series was also really good.

    CutePolarBear

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They’re quite good! I hope you enjoy them if you try them. Snow Treasure IS delightful. Oh yes! I need to read more JHH books! They all sound epic.
      Thank you! I’ll have to check those out…

      Like

  5. Thank you for this post!!!! WWII fiction is the econd-biggest genre I write (and one of my top favourites to read), so this is very helpful! I’ve heard of some of these but not all, and I’m definitely adding many to my TBR! *bumps Brothers-in-arms up onto ‘most wanted’ list*… Haha, who would have thought you’d put Enemy Brothers first?😜😜 And YES, Lighten Our Darkness!!!!! Whenever anyone asks me for WWII recs, I always say Lighten Our Darkness immediately XD
    *tries to think of any others to recommend* Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop is a long-time favourite of mine, it’s technically a children’s book and it’s quite short but it’s really amazing *heart eyes* And The Notes in Our Hearts by Gabriellyn Gidman is a short story I read a few years ago and don’t fully remember, but I know I loved it 🙂 It was more contemporary though with a WWII backstory, I think, but I could be wrong. I really need to reread that. Other than that, I can’t think of any you wouldn’t know about – Lighten Our Darkness is my go to rec, so I’m kind of stuck now!🤣
    I look forward to the nonfiction post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 I can’t wait to read your WWII fiction 😉 Well, I was ranking them by rating, so yeah, naturally EB came first… and oh my heart LOD is SOO GOOOOOOOOD.
      Ooo, thanks for those recs! And the nonfiction post is hopefully coming soon 🙂

      Like

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