Let’s start off the July 4 holiday with a 21-Book Salute! In honor of the brave men and women who have served, and continue to serve, our beloved country, we are excited to share with readers 21 books that honor our founding fathers, Civil War and WWII veterans, iconic Americans, and the many other brave men and women responsible for the freedom we enjoy today, together with inspiring stories on American soil. Choose one of these books for your book club to read, schedule a visit with the author, and share with us how the book inspired you to salute these heroes and transported you to some unforgettable moments in American history.
- America’s First Daughter by Laura Kamoie and Stephanie Dray
In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph–a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.
2. The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall
From the author of The Balance Project comes a dual-timeline narrative featuring a 1949 Miss Subways contestant and a modern-day advertising executive whose careers and lives intersect. The Subway Girls is the charming story of two strong women, a generation apart, who find themselves up against the same eternal struggle to find an impossible balance between love, happiness, and ambition.
3. Learning to See by Elise Hooper
If you liked Sold on a Monday and Beautiful Exiles, you’ll love this novel about strong-willed trailblazing photographer, Dorothea Lange, whose fame grew during World War II and the Great Depression. At a time when women were supposed to keep the home fires burning, Dorothea Lange, creator of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century, dares to be different. But her choices came at a steep price…
4. The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey
A novel of love, courage, and danger unfolds as World War II’s brightest heroines—the best of friends—take on the front lines. Chosen for their inner strength and outer charm, they are not prepared for the daunting challenges of war. But through it all come new friendships and romances, unforeseen dangers, and unexpected dreams. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives.
5. The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
Expected to gracefully embrace a life of privilege, a young woman cuts the purse strings that bind her to plot a new life course. But startling self-realization challenges everything she knows as she begins to study the diary of a seventeenth-century victim of the Salem witch trials.
Named to Publishers Weekly’s Best 100 novels for 2008, the ECPA Fiction Book of the Year, a RITA finalist, and Carol Award winner…
6. The Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman
Set in the vibrant tropical surroundings of the Pacific, The Lieutenant’s Nurse is an evocative, emotional WWII story of love, friendship and the resilient spirit of the heroic nurses of Pearl Harbor. An “Editor’s Choice” at Historical Novel Society and USA Today Bestseller.
7. Shining Sea by Anne Korkeakivi
Epic, tender, and beautifully rendered, SHINING SEA is the portrait of an American family-a profound depiction of the ripple effects of war, the passing down of memory, the making of myth, and the power of the ideal of heroism to lead us astray but sometimes also to keep us afloat.
8. The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall
The award-winning, national bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard sends an unlikely trio on an exhilarating adventure high above the American Midwest of the 1920s in a spirited, “entertaining surprise” (Publishers Weekly) of a novel in league with Water for Elephants and The Aviator’s Wife. Susan Crandall artfully weaves the stories of three unforgettable characters, each searching for salvation that waits just beyond the horizon.
9. Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton
Philadelphia, 1883. Twenty-three-year-old Lilli de Jong is pregnant and alone—abandoned by her lover and banished from her Quaker home. She gives birth at a charity for wronged women, planning to give up the baby. But the power of their bond sets her on a completely unexpected path. Unwed mothers in 1883 face staggering prejudice, yet Lilli refuses to give up her baby girl. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep the two of them alive.
10. The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio
Hearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.
“… a charming multi-generational love story, but it is more than that: it is a story of family, love lost, and love found…A loving tribute to the workers who risked their lives and health in building iconic structures in New York City…” —Historical Novel Society
11. Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris
Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern’s life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother’s best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy. When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.
12. My Dear Hamilton by Laura Kamoie and Stephanie Dray
From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton–a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. In this haunting, moving, and beautifully written novel, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before–not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal–but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.
13. Rule of Capture by Ona Russell
Los Angeles, 1928. Oil, oranges and site of the C. C. Julian Petroleum stock scandal, a Ponzi type scheme to rival any in American history and a foreshadowing of the decade’s looming, economic crash. As one of the scheme’s victims, Ohio probate officer Sarah Kaufman–till reeling from the KKK murders she helped solve in Tennessee–is in the city to attend the trial of the perpetrators, in particular of the ”friend” who convinced her to invest. Sarah is eager for justice and committed to seeing the trial through. She’s glad she’s alone, that her lover Mitchell isn’t there, that after court she’ll have time to herself. But when a Mexican woman she barely knows winds up dead, Sarah’s plans are thrown upside down. Suddenly she finds herself in a nightmarish trial by fire, one that takes her from the glamour of Hollywood to the Tijuana frontier, tests her deepest beliefs and leads her to discover not only a killer, but a part of Los Angeles built on a terrible secret.
14. Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth
For the first time in decades, Lorraine Kindred has returned to the ballroom where she was swept away by the big bands during the 1940s – and by a star-crossed romance. As she takes in the magnificent energy and brassy sounds of her youth, the past comes to life, along with the fateful decision all those years ago that forced her to choose between personal conviction and social expectations, between the two men who had captured her heart. It had been a time of great music and love, but also of war and sacrifice, and now, trying to make peace with her memories, Lorraine must find the courage to face buried secrets. In the process, she will rediscover herself, her passion, and her capacity for resilience.
15. The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner
From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II. Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943—aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity. The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.
16. The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey
After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her children deserve. Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light. But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter, Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all.
17. My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
Mary Sutter is a brilliant young midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Eager to run away from recent heartbreak, Mary travels to Washington, D.C., to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of two surgeons, who both fall unwittingly in love with her, and resisting her mother’s pleas to return home to help with the difficult birth of her twin sister’s baby, Mary pursues her medical career against all odds. Rich with historical detail—including cameo appearances by Abraham Lincoln and Dorothea Dix, among others—My Name Is Mary Sutter is certain to be recognized as one of the great novels about the Civil War.
18. A Different Kind of Fire by Suanne Schafer
Ruby Schmidt has the talent, the drive, even the guts to enroll in art school, leaving behind her childhood home and the beau she always expected to marry. Her life at the Academy seems heavenly at first, but she soon learns that societal norms in the East are as restrictive as those back home in West Texas. Rebelling against the insipid imagery woman are expected to produce, Ruby embraces bohemian life. Her burgeoning sexuality drives her into a life-long love affair with another woman and into the arms of an Italian baron. With the Panic of 1893, the nation spirals into a depression, and Ruby’s career takes a similar downward trajectory. After thinking she could have it all, Ruby, now pregnant and broke, returns to Texas rather than join the queues at the neighborhood soup kitchen. She discovers her life back home is as challenging as that in Philadelphia.
19. The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy
Sarah Brown, the vibrant, talented daughter of abolitionist John Brown, is dynamically changed when she stumbles onto her father’s work on the Underground Railroad shortly after being told the shocking news that she won’t ever bear children. Realizing that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the movement’s leading mapmakers, hiding maps within her paintings while bigotry and hatred steer the country toward a bloody civil war. Interwoven with Sarah’s adventure is the present-day story of Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, who moves to an old house in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. Sarah and Eden’s connection bridges the past and present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.
20. The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable
Based on a real story – in 1950, a young, beautiful Polish refugee arrives in Hyannisport, Massachusetts to work as a maid for one of the wealthiest families in America. Alicia is at once dazzled by the large and charismatic family, in particular the oldest son, a rising politician named Jack. Alicia and Jack are soon engaged, but his domineering father forbids the marriage. And so, Alicia trades Hyannisport for Hollywood, and eventually Rome. She dates famous actors and athletes and royalty, including Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas, and Katharine Hepburn, all the while staying close with Jack. A decade after they meet, on the eve of Jack’s inauguration as the thirty-fifth President of the United States, the two must confront what they mean to each other.
21. Grand Central by Jenna Blum, Sarah McCoy and Kristina McMorris (and others)
On any particular day, thousands upon thousands of people pass through Grand Central, through the whispering gallery, beneath the ceiling of stars, and past the information booth and its beckoning four-faced clock, to whatever destination is calling them. It is a place where people come to say hello and good-bye. And each person has a story to tell. Ten bestselling authors inspired by New York City’s iconic Grand Central Terminal have created their own stories, set on the same day, just after the end of World War II, in a time of hope, uncertainty, change, and renewal….