I have fallen in love with historical fiction!

I usually read to be entertained and escape reality for a while. My preferences include thrillers and action-packed stories with a fast pace,  but I’ve been dabbling in different genres. At a recent SCBWI writing conference, I had the pleasure of hearing author Sherri Smith speak and lecture on her process of writing historical fiction. She dives down a historical rabbit hole and then crafts a story around the event. It’s fascinating!

I want to share two historical fiction books that opened my eyes to the genre. Sherri Smith’s The Blossom and the Firefly and Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Both books take readers on a journey into the depths of World War II. They are told from different perspectives and show how war is more than battling countries who fight for land and stature; it affects lives across the war’s border.

Before reviewing the novels, I tried to figure out why I found it so fun to read historical fiction. It’s a known fact within my circle of family and friends that I know nothing about history. Zero.

I will never earn a yellow piece...

You do NOT want to be on my trivia team if history is involved. At this point in my life, learning from a dry history text is not very exciting, BUT…if you frame it as a story, I’m sold.





Sherri L. Smith’s The Blossom and the Firefly enters World War II in 1945, late in the war. We meet Hana in Chiran, a war-torn region of Japan. At only 14 years old, her father has gone to war, and she worries she will never hear the sweet music of his koto again. She no longer attends classes during the day but walks to the airfields to launder clothes and socks for the pilots. It is here she meets a tokko (kamikaze) pilot, Toro.

Hana’s job is to cover Toro’s plane with cherry blossoms and provide a warm smile before he crashes to his death in the name of Japan. She knows better than to become attached, but then she hears him play his violin. Hana and Toro connect through music.

The Blossom and the Firefly gives a unique insight into the war from a Japanese perspective. It details Japanese tradition and culture, in which teenage boys are shamed if they do not die for their country. Young girls are taught hand-to-hand combat to fight until death and never surrender if Japan were to lose the war. The story brings the war to life for readers to experience the emotion, loss, and sacrifice of everyone involved. It is a beautiful novel.


Ruta Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea provides a German perspective on World War II. The story begins during Germany’s last days before its fall and follows five lives from each point of view. One is a Lithuanian refugee and medical provider, a pregnant Polish teenager whose entire family and town were wiped out by genocide, a Prussian art restorer who has stolen a priceless Nazi treasure and hopes to smuggle it out of Germany, and a psychotic Nazi soldier.

The travelers cross paths, and their lives intertwine as they rush toward the German ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff, which will carry them safely from invading Russians. The German ship surpasses its max capacity by thousands of passengers, and we follow each character through a great disaster when the ship is hit by a torpedo.

Salt to the Sea sucked me in emotionally and is action-packed as well as a love story and tragic story of loss. It provided insight into the many cultures and homelands destroyed by the war. It’s a sensational book; I know I learned a little in the process!



My recommendation of the day is to read historical fiction! These two books barely scratch the surface of the mountains of history to be explored, so I’m off to the library to find more. And not to age anyone, but the 1980s are now considered historical fiction.

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