- The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
Because the Taliban rulers of Kabul, Afghanistan, impose strict limitations on women’s freedom and behavior, eleven year-old Parvana must disguise herself as a boy so that her family can survive after her father’s arrest.
- I am Taxi by Deborah Ellis
Diego, 12, lives in prison in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia, stuck there with his parents, who have been falsely arrested for smuggling drugs. He attends school and works as a “taxi,” running errands for the inmates in the great street market. Then, his friend, Mando, persuades him to make big money, and the boys find themselves stomping coca leaves in cocaine pits in the jungle, with local gangsters and a smooth boss who supplies “hungry noses” in America.
- Bound by Dona Jo Napoli
In a novel based on Chinese Cinderella tales, fourteen-year-old stepchild Xing-Xing endures a life of neglect and servitude, as her stepmother cruelly mutilates her own child’s feet so that she alone might marry well.
- After the Wall: Confessions from an East German Childhood and the Life that Came Next by English Zonekinder
Hensel was born in Leipzig, East Germany, in 1976 and was 13 when the Berlin Wall fell. This memoir portrays the disorientation of her generation, whose upbringing under communism ended abruptly with the integration of East and West Germany. Hensel rambles through a wide range of subjects: the erasure of memory; East German youth’s alienation from their Western peers; her ambivalence about her childhood; their inability to adjust to the new world, which resulted in a role reversal in which Hensel had to “interpret” Western customs for her parents; and her generation’s compulsion to disguise themselves as Western, changing their clothes and even their accents.
- Tree Girl by Ben Michaelsen
When, protected by the branches of one of the trees she loves to climb, Gabriela witnesses the destruction of her Mayan village and the murder of nearly all its inhabitants, she vows never to climb again until, after she and her traumatised sister find safety in a Mexican refugee camp, she realizes that only by climbing and facing their fears can she and her sister hope to have a future.
- Sold by Patricia McCormick
Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi, though poor, enjoys her life until the Himalayan monsoons wash away her family’s crops and she is sold to a brothel in India by her stepfather. She remembers her mother’s wisdom, “Simply to endure is to triumph,” until the day comes that she can reclaim her life.
- A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
Tree-ear, a thirteen-year-old orphan in medieval Korea, lives under a bridge in a potters’ village, and longs to learn how to throw the delicate celadon ceramics himself.
Northern Ireland – Belfast
- Safe House by James Heneghan
In 1999, in Belfast, Liam Fogarty’s parents are murdered by intruders. Because he gets a good look at one of the gunmen, the 12-year-old is also a target. He initially takes shelter at a friend’s home. After narrowly escaping being shot through the window there, he is placed in a police safe house, only to have his location betrayed.
- Zlata’s Diary : A Child’s Life in Sarajevo by Zlata Filipovic
From September 1991 through October 1993, young Zlata Filipovic kept a diary. When she began it, she was 11 years old, concerned mostly with friends, school, piano lessons, MTV, and Madonna. As the diary ends, she has become used to constant bombing and snipers; severe shortages of food, water, and gas; and the end of a privileged adolescence in her native Sarajevo. Zlata has been described as the new Anne Frank.
- Chanda’s Secret by Allen Stratton
A girl’s struggle amid the African AIDS pandemic, Chanda, is an astonishingly perceptive girl living in the small city of Bonang, a fictional city in Southern Africa. When her youngest sister dies, the first hint of HIV/AIDS emerges, Chanda must confront undercurrents of shame and stigma. Not afraid to explore the horrific realities of AIDS, Chanda’s Secrets also captures the enduring strength of loyalty, friendship and family ties. Above all, it is a story about the corrosive nature of secrets and the healing power of truth.
- In the Name of God by Paula Jolin
Determined to follow the laws set down in the Qur’an, seventeen-year-old Nadia becomes involved in a violent revolutionary movement aimed at supporting Muslim rule in Syria and opposing the Western politics and materialism that increasingly affect her family.
- The Virgin’s Knots by Holly Payne
It’s the 1950s in a small village of Turkey and rug weaver Nurdane’s legs have been ravaged by childhood polio. It is in her hands that magic lies. Her magnificent rugs are believed to hold mystical powers. Villagers say they heal the sick, bring good fortune, or guarantee male children for those lucky enough to own one. Nurdane must choose between her Allah-given gift and a life of self-realization.
West Africa — Nigeria
- Other Side of Truth by Beverly Naidoo
Smuggled out of Nigeria after their mother’s murder, Sade and her younger brother are abandoned in London when their uncle fails to meet them at the airport and they are fearful of their new surroundings and of what may have happened to their journalist father back in Nigeria.