Among the hype around fan-favorite authors and books, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and only focus on the currently popular titles sold on the shelves of your local Target or Barnes and Noble. Here are six underrated books that you should take note of that definitely deserve more hype!
Here, I have chosen six books from a vast array of genres: memoir, graphic novel, young adult fiction, and historical fiction, so there is an option out there for you to enjoy out of this list! Even though these books might not be at the top of every Goodreads list, the outstanding reviews speak for themselves.
"Night" by Elie Wiesel
"Night" is the poignant, true story of Elie Wiesel himself and his experiences surviving in Nazi-enforced concentration camps during the Holocaust. He experiences the height of the systematic genocide and lives in an inhumane environment in which the sight and smell of death are frequent. Young 15-year-old Wiesel experiences the loss of everything he loves: home, friends, and family; he loses not only his loved ones but also his innocence, his hope, and even his faith in God As powerful and moving as "The Diary of Anne Frank," "Night" reminds us that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.
"Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe
Published in 1958. "Things Fall Apart" follows precolonial life in southeastern Nigeria and the devastating effects colonization of Europeans in the late 19th century. Filled with plot twists and engaging plot, it is critically-acclaimed for good reason.
"A true classic of world literature . . . A masterpiece that has inspired generations of writers in Nigeria, across Africa, and around the world." —Barack Obama
Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read
"Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi
This one is one of my all-time favorite books, and I recently read it for my college English class. It is an autobiographical graphic novel about Marjane Satrapi herself, nicknamed Marji. Marji is forced to grow up in a country in which a strict regime asserts control over nearly everything, from dress code to public communication. She mainly experiences unequal treatment of Iranian women by fundamentalist authority. At a young age, she is ultimately determined to fight for her rights as a woman at the expense of her own safety. During the Islamic Revolution, surrounded by degrading new laws, rules, and bombings, Marji not only struggles against the patriarchal regime but also with oppression and her identity as a woman.
"Ashes In The Snow" by Ruta Sepetys
Formerly titled "Between Shades of Gray," "Ashes In The Snow" follows 15-year-old Lina and her family as they are forced out of their homes by Soviet guards and deported to Siberia to work in the grueling conditions of Stalin's labor camps in 1941.
"Salt To The Sea" by Ruta Sepetys
What can I say? Ruta Sepetys is one of my favorite authors ever, and I think so many of her books deserve more attention. They're so beautifully written. "Salt To The Sea," tells the story of four individuals in WWII making the long journey towards safety and salvation. It is based on a real-life maritime disaster: the ship onto which they flee is the Wilhelm Gustloff, which was sunk by a Soviet submarine in January 1945. Of the estimated 10,500 people on board, more than 9,000 died.
Here's a brief synopsis, according to rutasepetys.com:
"In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety. Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival."
"Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson
Published in 1999, "Speak is a young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson that tells the story of high school freshman Melinda Sordino. After accidentally ending of summer party due to an unnamed incident, Melinda is ostracized by her peers because she will not say why she called the police. It is revealed that she was raped by senior Andy Evans and she dialed 911 after the incident, but she hung up, not knowing what to say, and runs home. Unable to verbalize what happened, Melinda nearly stops speaking altogether, expressing her voice through the art she produces for Mr. Freeman's class. This expression slowly helps Melinda acknowledge what happened, confront her problems, and freely express her bravery and individuality.