Book picks similar to
Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser


historical-fiction
young-adult
historical
new-adult

We Walked the Sky


Lisa Fiedler - 2019
    Specifically, the VanDrexel Family Circus where, among the lion tamers, roustabouts, and trapeze artists, Victoria hopes to start a better life.Fifty years later, Victoria's sixteen-year-old granddaughter Callie is thriving. A gifted and focused tightrope walker with dreams of being a VanDrexel high wire legend just like her grandmother, Callie can't imagine herself anywhere but the circus. But when Callie's mother accepts her dream job at an animal sanctuary in Florida just months after Victoria's death, Callie is forced to leave her lifelong home behind.Feeling unmoored and out of her element, Callie pores over memorabilia from her family's days on the road, including a box that belonged to Victoria when she was Callie's age. In the box, Callie finds notes that Victoria wrote to herself with tips and tricks for navigating her new world. Inspired by this piece of her grandmother's life, Callie decides to use Victoria's circus prowess to navigate the uncharted waters of public high school.Across generations, Victoria and Callie embrace the challenges of starting over, letting go, and finding new families in unexpected places.

I’m Glad I Did


Cynthia Weil - 2015
    Part Mad Men, part Grace of my Heart, part murder mystery, I'm Glad I Did is a coming-of-age story at an unforgettable cultural tipping point: the summer of 1963.JJ Greene, a gifted 16-year-old songwriter, defies her lawyer parents by secretly applying for a job in the famed Brill Building-the epicenter of songwriting for a new genre called rock-n-roll. But their warnings about the evils of the music industry prove far darker than she imagined when she finds herself at the heart of a cover-up that involves hidden identity, theft, and possibly murder.Story Locale: New York, NY

The Scar Boys


Len Vlahos - 2014
    A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock 'n' roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world...even if you carry scars inside and out. In attempting to describe himself in his college application essay--help us to become acquainted with you beyond your courses, grades, and test scores--Harbinger (Harry) Jones goes way beyond the 250-word limit and gives a full account of his life. The first defining moment: the day the neighborhood goons tied him to a tree during a lightning storm when he was 8 years old, and the tree was struck and caught fire. Harry was badly burned and has had to live with the physical and emotional scars, reactions from strangers, bullying, and loneliness that instantly became his everyday reality. The second defining moment: the day in 8th grade when the handsome, charismatic Johnny rescued him from the bullies and then made the startling suggestion that they start a band together. Harry discovered that playing music transported him out of his nightmare of a world, and he finally had something that compelled people to look beyond his physical appearance. Harry's description of his life in his essay is both humorous and heart-wrenching. He had a steeper road to climb than the average kid, but he ends up learning something about personal power, friendship, first love, and how to fit in the world. While he's looking back at the moments that have shaped his life, most of this story takes place while Harry is in high school and the summer after he graduates.

Fireworks


Katie Cotugno - 2017
    She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along. But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing. It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through. Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

For What It's Worth


Janet Tashjian - 2012
    Quinn, a fourteen-year-old music "encyclopedia," writes a music column—called "For What It's Worth"—for his school paper. But Quinn's world is about to change when he is faced with helping a war dodger and must make some tough decisions. When he starts receiving cryptic Ouija board messages from Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix (all members of the 27 Club), he knows he is in over his head. Fortunately for Quinn, his new girlfriend Caroline helps him get a grip and channel his inner self.

Ten Cents a Dance


Christine Fletcher - 2008
    But in the 1940s, the only opportunities open to a Polish-American girl from Chicago's poor Yards is a job in one of the meat packing plants. Through a chance meeting with a local tough, Ruby lands a job as a taxi dancer and soon becomes an expert in the art of "fishing": working her patrons for meals, cash, clothes, even jewelry. Drawn ever deeper into the world of dance halls, jazz, and the mob, Ruby gradually realizes that the only one who can save her is herself. A mesmerizing look into a little known world and era.

Search and Destroy


Dean Hughes - 2005
    Maybe he's running from his dad, who has an uncontrollable temper. Maybe he's running from a lost love, his high-school sweetheart, who is a stranger to him now. Or maybe he's just running -- to find himself.Desperate to experience real life, Rick enlists in the army with the Charlie Rangers, a special unit in Vietnam. They infiltrate the jungle, kill with precision, and get out quickly. Rick isn't sure he can shoot anyone, but he wants to be tested, like his heroes, Hemingway and Conrad. If he can see the heart of darkness and survive, he'll be a man -- and finally have something to write about.But as Rick discovers, war isn't what anyone -- either the protestors, the politicians, or the writers -- say it is. It's far bigger, scarier, and more complicated than anything he could ever have imagined.Dean Hughes captures the sights and sounds of war -- and the courage of a young soldier fighting to survive.

Taking Off


Jenny Moss - 2010
    When a teen named Annie meets Christa, she is fascinated by Christa's courage. Truly inspired, Annie is determined to make it to Florida to see the Challenger launch, a trip that will forever change how she thinks about herself and her secret desire for her own future. Although she is devastated when tragedy strikes, Annie honors Christa by following her own dream, despite the obstacles. Bringing in her experience as a NASA engineer, Jenny Moss weaves a moving story that recaptures the inspiration teens must have felt years ago as they watched Christa McAuliffe reach for the sky.

Shakespeare's Daughter


Peter W. Hassinger - 2004
    She yearns to travel to London to see her father's world of players and poets, and to follow a secret dream of her own. Once Susanna arrives in London, nothing is quite as she expected it to be -- least of all her relationship with her famous father. But propelled by her love for Thomas Cole, a Catholic chorister, and her desire to sing, Susanna discovers that it is only with the support of those who love her that she has the strength to succeed. Screenwriter Peter W. Hassinger creates a Shakespearean tale rife with imagery and beauty that pays homage to the Bard himself.

In Honor


Jessi Kirby - 2012
    Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn’s celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her. Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn’s last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn’s best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn’t seen him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn . . . and ruggedly good-looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn--but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

Saving June


Hannah Harrington - 2011
    But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one — so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going — California.Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down — again.

The War Outside


Monica Hesse - 2018
    The war seemed far away from Margot in Iowa and Haruko in Colorado--until they were uprooted to dusty Texas, all because of the places their parents once called home: Germany and Japan.Haruko and Margot meet at the high school in Crystal City, a "family internment camp" for those accused of colluding with the enemy. The teens discover that they are polar opposites in so many ways, except for one that seems to override all the others: the camp is changing them, day by day, and piece by piece. Haruko finds herself consumed by fear for her soldier brother and distrust of her father, who she knows is keeping something from her. And Margot is doing everything she can to keep her family whole as her mother's health deteriorates and her rational, patriotic father becomes a man who distrusts America and fraternizes with Nazis.With everything around them falling apart, Margot and Haruko find solace in their growing, secret friendship. But in a prison the government has deemed full of spies, can they trust anyone--even each other?

Letters From Wolfie


Patti Sherlock - 2004
    Mark can hardly imagine life without his big, loving canine companion. But in 1969, the Vietnam War is still raging, and when Mark learns that the army needs scout dogs, he decides to send Wolfie. As his dad says, a smart dog like Wolfie could save a lot of soldiers—soldiers like Mark’s brother, Danny. Besides, it seems like the patriotic thing to do. Inspired by real events, this is a heartbreaking story about sacrifice, loyalty, and the complex meanings of patriotism.

The Queen's Soprano


Carol Dines - 2006
    But in seventeenth-century Rome, the pope has forbidden women to sing in public. To make matters worse, her controlling mother is determined to marry her off to a wealthy nobleman, even though Angelica is in love with a poor French artist. Angelica's only hope to sing before an audience—and escape a forced marriage—is to flee to Queen Christina's court, where she will become the queen's soprano. But she soon discovers that the palace walls are not completely secure . . . and her freedom will require even greater sacrifice than she imagined.

Are You Experienced?


Jordan Sonnenblick - 2013
    When his girlfriend asks him to perform at protest rally, he jumps at the chance. Unfortunately, the police show up, and so does Rich’s dad. He’s in big trouble. Again. To make matters worse, this happens near the anniversary of his uncle’s death from a drug overdose years ago. Rich’s dad always gets depressed this time of year, but whenever Rich asks questions about his late uncle, his dad shuts down.Frustrated by his dad’s silence, Rich sneaks into his office and breaks into a locked cabinet that holds his dad’s prized possession: an electric guitar signed by Jimi Hendrix. Before he knows it, Rich is transported to the side of a road in Upstate New York with a beautiful girl bending over him. It will take him a while to realize it’s 1969, he’s at Woodstock, and the girl’s band of friends includes his fifteen-year-old dad and his uncle, who’s still alive. What Rich learns, who he meets, and what he does could change his life forever.