13 Best Teen & Young Adult United States Historical Fiction

List Updated April 2020

Bestselling Teen & Young Adult United States Historical Fiction in 2020


Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy

Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy
BESTSELLER NO. 1 in 2020
  • Great product!

Fever 1793

Fever 1793
BESTSELLER NO. 2 in 2020
  • Great product!

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two
BESTSELLER NO. 3 in 2020

The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963
BESTSELLER NO. 4 in 2020

Girl in the Blue Coat

Girl in the Blue Coat
BESTSELLER NO. 5 in 2020
  • LBYR

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Scholastic Gold)

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Scholastic Gold)
BESTSELLER NO. 6 in 2020
  • Scholastic Paperbacks

Forge

Forge
BESTSELLER NO. 7 in 2020
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive

Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive
BESTSELLER NO. 8 in 2020

Out of the Dust

Out of the Dust
BESTSELLER NO. 9 in 2020
  • Great product!

Ashes (The Seeds of America Trilogy)

Ashes (The Seeds of America Trilogy)
BESTSELLER NO. 10 in 2020

Woods Runner

Woods Runner
BESTSELLER NO. 11 in 2020
  • Wendy Lamb Books

Alex and Eliza: A Love Story: The Alex & Eliza Trilogy

Alex and Eliza: A Love Story: The Alex & Eliza Trilogy
BESTSELLER NO. 12 in 2020
  • PUTNAM JUV

Lyddie (A Puffin Novel)

Lyddie (A Puffin Novel)
BESTSELLER NO. 13 in 2020
  • Puffin Books

James Franco to Play Bruce Springsteen! (Or Maybe Not)

With so many actors playing historical figures lately, it's fun to imagine which other modern actors could incarnate beloved personalities from the past

Setting aside a larger discussion of the traps inherent to playing real-life figures, the current rush of movies about famous people from the past seems reason enough to indulge in the parlor game of matching current actors with luminaries whom they somewhat resemble, and imagining what types of movies might best utilize these likenesses. Obviously, this is all conjecture for conjecture's sake, so don't look for any of these projects at a theater near you anytime soon. However, if any of these do materialize, I demand an executive-producer credit (and a cut of the profits)!

James Franco as Bruce Springsteen. Okay, so Franco is from California, meaning his casting in a movie about the Boss might infuriate diehards who expect a Jersey boy to play the role, but given Franco's prodigious output and his tendency to juggle a bajillion projects at once, it seems safe to say Franco could emulate Springsteen's herculean stamina. Plus, particularly if one looks at photos of Springsteen in his rail-thin Born to Run days, the resemblance is strong; throw a scraggly beard onto Franco's chin, slip him into a wife-beater and a leather jacket, and the visual is complete. What might the story be? Well, since Franco loves to play post-modern games, why not a movie called The E Street Shuffle, in which Franco plays not only Springsteen but also a range of dubious characters living on E Street who inspire the songs on Born to Run? After making the picture, Franco could pursue another postgraduate degree by writing a dissertation on the varying layers of metaphorical representation in the movie.

Johnny Depp as Errol Flynn. Since becoming an A-lister a few years ago with Pirates of the Caribbean, Depp has mostly downplayed his looks, avoiding the clichés of playing heartthrobs and ladykillers. However, the Pirates movies revealed that people dig watching him buckle his swash. Therefore, playing notorious cocksman (and equally notorious imbiber) Flynn could allow Depp to play a swoon-worthy romantic lead while also indulging in acrobatics and swordfights, plus undercutting the whole idea of heartthrobbery by accentuating Flynn's caddish behavior. A tacky telefilm about Flynn was made years ago, bearing the catchy title of the actor's autobiography (My Wicked, Wicked Ways), so an obvious alternate title would be The Adventures of Errol Flynn, a nod to the star's 1938 classic The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Matthew Lillard as Neil Armstrong. Comedy-movie veteran Lillard enjoyed a boom period in the late 1990s and early 2000s with his appearances in the Scooby-Doo and Scream franchises, and now he's back on the pop-culture radar thanks to his terrific supporting turn in the presumptive Oscar contender The Descendants. It remains to be seen whether he'll build new momentum or return to semi-obscurity, but if for some reason he becomes a leading player, he could exploit his passing physical similarity to Neil Armstrong, the American astronaut who became, in 1969, the first man to walk on the moon. Several excellent books and documentaries have attempted to articulate the indescribable experiences of those who trod lunar surface, but now that we're in the CGI era, an opportunity presents itself to create a magical film about this crucial historical moment. Better still, Lillard's edgy comic persona could add an interesting flavor to his portrayal of the famously press-shy Armstrong. The title, of course, would have to be One Small Step.

Rooney Mara as Audrey Hepburn. Despite being one of the most enchanting women ever to appear in movies, the gamine star of Breakfast at Tiffany's has not been featured as an onscreen character very often; the only significant fictional treatment of her life was a TV movie starring the miscast Jennifer Love Hewitt. Mara, now commanding the screen as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, would be interesting casting not only because audiences currently expect to see her with tattoos and piercings but also because she could bring gravitas to a personality too many people mistakenly perceive as merely effervescent. The real Hepburn had darkness in her past (including harrowing World War II experiences), plus romantic travails that were wrenching even if they weren't the stuff of scandal sheets. A fascinating movie in the Being John Malkovich mode could be made about an admirer meeting Hepburn and deconstructing the façade to discover the real person behind the screen persona, sort of like My Week With Marilyn but without the barbiturates and sex. The title, at the risk of being obvious, could be Breakfast at Audrey's.

Brad Pitt as Robert Redford. Pitt received innumerable comparisons to Redford back in the early 1990s, when Pitt first hit the scene and especially when he starred in A River Runs Through It, which Redford directed. Given that Redford's mountaintop lifestyle is as fascinating to people as his onscreen career or his directorial efforts (there's a whole catalog devoted to emulating the style of Redford's Utah-based Sundance empire), it could be interesting to watch a picture exploring the pivotal moment in the 1970s when Redford morphed from a pretty-boy leading man to a filmmaker of substance, tackling challenging material like the classic Watergate drama All the President's Men. It would be unreasonable to expect a warts-and-all movie, since Pitt is a Friend of Bob and since Redford is notorious for the control he exercises over his image, but even a self-serving picture could be fun, since the legend of how Redford became Redford is probably just as intoxicating as the reality. One possible title would be Golden Boy, in reference not only to the gleaming looks that Pitt shares with Redford but also to Clifford Odets' classic play about the strength of character one needs to resist the corruption that rides sidecar with success.

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