The best two books I've read in the past several months were both historical fiction: first The Radetsky March, Joseph Roth's amazingly astringent 1932 novel about the decline of the Austro-Hungarian empire, recommended to me by a friend who's spending the year in Vienna; and now The Lions of Little Rock, a 2013 YA novel by Kristin Levine, recommended by my 10-year-old daughter.
My daughter had been trying to get me to read this book for weeks. Yesterday's snow day gave me a chance to start it--and once I started, I couldn't stop. The Lions of Little Rock, about the school integration struggle in Little Rock in the late 1950s, is maybe even better than the Roth. I was floored by its apparently effortless depth and wisdom. It's about a 7th grader, and it's packaged like a book for tweens, but everyone should read it. It's a more gripping book than Warriors Don't Cry, and it's both better and less morally questionable than To Kill a Mockingbird. If my ninth grade students could get over their reluctance to read books aimed at younger children, I think they'd love it.
Again I am amazed at the quality of the YA books produced in our time. We are living in a golden age of children's literature, and we should thank our lucky stars.