WWII Historical Fiction Books That Make History Come Alive

There have been a large number of WWII historical fiction books published in the last ten years. But which ones are the best ones to read? Which WWII historical fiction books make history come alive?

Stack of WWII Historical Fiction Books

It would be hard to create a list of all the WWII books fiction books because so many have been written.

Our lists always include books that we have read. Instead of sharing a random list of WWII historical fiction books, this is a list of the WWII fiction books we have read and enjoyed.

These are books that we learned from. They taught us about people and places that we didn’t know about.

They are books that made us want to know more because they made WWII history come alive.

WWII Historical Fiction stack of books

WWII Historical Fiction

Be sure to bookmark, pin, or save this post. I am currently reading a WWII historical fiction book and I have at least six more in my to-be read stack, so I will be adding books and updating this list.

A Note

These books are about war and cover tough topics. For a more detailed review, click on the title of the book. It will take you to a full review where I give more specifics about each book. I also made a note on the full review of anything that I thought made the book more PG or PG-13. So, if you like to know what books have more graphic descriptions, be sure to click over to read the full reviews.

We Were the Lucky Ones

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

We Were the Lucky Ones is one of my all-time favorite fiction books. It is based on the author’s family. It follows three generations of a family as they try to survive WWII. It is a story of family, war, love, and sacrifice.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz book review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on a true story and it reads like one. It is the story of a Slovakian Jew who is sent to a concentration camp. He is then forced to become a tattooist who tattoos identification numbers on other prisoners’ arms.

I feel like saying any more than that will ruin the story. If you like WWII fiction and haven’t read this one, it is one that I really enjoyed.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

The Nightingale is a WWII fiction book that draws you into the story. Once I started this book I could not put it down.

It is the story of two sisters who had totally different, but both incredibly difficult, experiences during the war. This has been described as a beautiful WWII novel. I would agree with that, but add that it is beautiful, yet heartbreaking. It is a story that you won’t forget.

The Book of Lost Names book review

The Book of Lost Names by Kristen Harmel

I will read just about anything Kristen Harmel writes, but I think this is her favorite book. The Book of Lost Names is inspired by a true story and you can tell because it reads like a true story.

This is a story that reads like it happened. It is a book about war, but also about so much more. If you love books about books and libraries, this is a great one.

The Last Year of the War Book

The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

In 2021, I went down the rabbit hole of reading WWII books about Japanese internment camps in the U.S. The Last Year of the War was one of the books I read after several readers recommended it. I am so glad that they did because I loved this one.

It is about an American-born German girl and an American-born Japanese girl who become friends in an Internment Camp in Texas during WWII. Their lives are forever changed.

Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet By Jamie Ford

Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is another book I read about Japanese internment camps in the U.S. during WWII. It also inspired my trip to the Minidoka Internment Camp Historical Site.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but I didn’t know much about Internment Camps, so I loved learning about this part of history. The book is a dual-timeline story that takes place in Seattle, WA, during the 1940s and 1980s.

Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

It took me about one hundred fifty pages to get into Lilac Girls. I almost set this down at about a hundred pages, but I am so glad I kept going. Once I got past that, I loved the book.

The book is based on a real-life story of a New York woman during WWII. It follows the lives of three women throughout the war. There are two other books in the series that I plan to read soon.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was out for about ten years before I read it. It took the Netflix movie to get me to read it because I knew I wanted to read the book before I watched the movie.

I don’t tend to read books that have letters back and forth, but this book worked. I loved the story, the descriptions, and the people. As I read this book, I wanted to know more and could not put it down. I read it in two days. Be sure also to read my thoughts on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book vs movie.

In Farleigh Field

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen

In Farleigh Field has been in my to read pile for quite a while. I finally picked it up. I loved the fact that it was a serious topic but included mystery, romance, and even some humor. It took me a few chapters to get into the book, but once I did I couldn’t put it down.

The writing was well done and the mystery part had me wanting to keep reading. This is a good book for those that enjoy Downton Abbey or British shows like it.

Cilka's Journey book

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

Cilka’s Journey is the follow up book to The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Cilka’s Journey was a great follow up book. I liked the first book a little better, but Cilka’s Journey was a good way to continue the story of one of the characters that was in The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

If you liked Tattooist of Auschwitz pick this one up. Cilka’s Journey did contain more graphic details than The Tattooist of Auschwitz, so keep that in mind if you read it. 

The Sweetness of Forgetting

The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristen Harmel

As I mentioned above I really like Kristin Harmel’s writing and that is why multiple of her books are on this list. I really enjoyed Sweetness of Forgetting.

This book combines WWII history, family, romance, and food. Those are some of my favorite things in a book. I loved the story and the characters in this book. It was a family story that alternated between WWII and present-day ( or present-day when the book was written.)

When the Men Were Gone

When the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis

When All the Men Were Gone is based on a true story of a small town football team in Texas during WWII. This story reads like nonfiction because it is based on a true story. I enjoyed this one because it is a little different.

It focuses on what happened back at home in America during the war. This book is about football, but you don’t have to be a football fan to enjoy this one. This made my top books of the year list when I read it a few years ago.

With Love Wherever You Are

With Love Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall

With Love Wherever You Are is based on the love story of the author’s parents. It is the love story of a nurse and a doctor during WWII. It is a story of war, survival, and the power of love.

The Heart Mender

The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews

The Heart Mender is a WWII story that is unlike any other that I have read. It is a powerful well-written story about war and forgiveness.

It is about the Gulf Coast during WWII. There are not many books about the Gulf Coast during the war so I found this one fascinating. If you like Andy Andrew’s other books I think you will really enjoy this one.

Red Sky Over Hawaii book

Red Sky Over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman

Red Sky Over Hawaii is a book that I picked up when I wanted to read more about Japanese internment camps during WWII.

This book shares the story of not only Japanese people being sent to internment camps, but Germans as well. It is set in Hawaii right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The Winter Guest book

The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff

I read The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff as part of my backlist books challenge in 2021. I was tempted to read one of her newer books but picked up this one that was published in 2014 instead.

It is the story of twin sisters, war, love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. The author’s writing draws you in and takes you back to a small village in Europe during WWII. I can’t wait to read more by Pam Jenoff.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars book

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

I have been wanting to read this book for months. It was the first book that I read in 2022, and I am so glad that I finally got to read it.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel is the story of a group of Jews who escaped the ghettos and spent time living and hiding in the forests during WWII. It is a story of survival during horrific circumstances.

The Ragged Edge of the Night book review

The Ragged Edge of the Night by Olivia Hawkins

The Ragged Edge of the Night is a historical fiction story that is based on the author’s family. It is about a friar who loses everything and relocates to a German hamlet to marry a widow with three kids.

This book is a WWII love story like nothing that I have read. This is a WWII fiction book that I feel has not gotten the attention that it deserves.

The Librarian Spy book review

The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin

The Librarian Spy is set in Portugal and France during WWII. It is about books, war, and the importance of preserving history.

Two women are trying hard to do good in the midst of evil. One is in France, and the other is in Portugal. Both are fighting to save lives. 

The Diamond Eye book cover

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

This is the first book by Kate Quinn that I have read and I loved it.

It is set during Hitler’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia and is based on the true story of a woman sniper during WWII.

Dear Mrs. Bird book review

Dear Mrs. Bird by A J Pearce

This book has been in my to be read stack for years. I am so glad that I finally picked it up.

Dear Mrs. Bird is the story of Emmy, her friend Bunty, and her co-workers. Emmeline, who goes by Emmy, wants to become a journalist. She takes a job working for an advice column, but it isn’t quite the job she thought it was. 

I enjoyed how this book showed what everyday life would have been like in London was like during WWII.

There are now three books in this series, and the next two are in my to-be-read stack waiting to be read.

This Light Between Us Book cover

The Light Between Us by Andrew Fukuda

This Light Between Us is considered YA historical fiction, but this is a book that adults will enjoy too. Andrew Fukuda does an excellent job of combining two different parts of WWII history into one.

Alex is a Japanese teenage boy living on a farm in America. Charlie is a Jewish teenage girl living in France. Through their pen pal letters, they share their stories of life before and during WWII. This is another one about Japanese Internment Camps in the U.S. during the war.

What WWII historical fiction books should I read next? Leave a comment with your suggestoins.

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