It has come to my attention that some people consider stories set in the 80’s to be historical fiction and I honestly don’t think I’m okay with that. There are children out there referring to the 1980s and 1990s “the late 1900’s”…what?! But if you think that to be true—DON’T TELL ME—and are looking for books that fit, that “era” we have a list for you. I’m sure in the next few years this will become a real thing, and everyone will have stories set in those awesome decades, where they will say, “Check out this new book. It’s set in the 80’s. You like historical fiction, right?”
Do you hear that? It’s the sound of me sobbing. But I hope this list makes you happy, because the books are all really good, even if you stand by me and the 80’s were NOT that long ago. (Did I just date myself more with that cinematic reference? SOB.)
by Barry Lyga
This killer thriller alternates between today and yesteryear and when you’re not frantically turning the pages to see what happens, you’ll appreciate all the key nostalgic references.
A thriller ricocheting between the bigotry of the past and present as teens unravel their parents’ secrets.
Four teens have dug up the time capsule that their parents buried in 1986 and never bothered to recover. But in addition to the expected ephemera of mixtapes, Walkmans, photographs, letters, toys, and assorted junk, Elayah, Liam, Marcie, and Jorja discover something sinister: a hunting knife stained with blood and wrapped with a note. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to kill anyone.”
As the action dramatically alternates between the present day and 1986, the mystery unfolds and the sins of the past echo into today. The teens haven’t just unearthed a time capsule: they’ve also dug up pain and secrets that someone – maybe one of their own parents–is willing to kill for.
by Ellie Marney
Did you know that Criminal Minds is my favorite show? If I see anything with FBI profilers, I need it in my life and this book has that in spades. Teenagers catching teenage serial killers, yes, sign me up.
In 1982, two teenagers—serial killer survivor Emma Lewis and US Marshal candidate Travis Bell—are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers and provide insight and advice on cold cases. From the start, Emma and Travis develop a quick friendship, gaining information from juvenile murderers that even the FBI can’t crack. But when the team is called in to give advice on an active case—a serial killer who exclusively hunts teenagers—things begin to unravel. Working against the clock, they must turn to one of the country’s most notorious incarcerated murderers for help: teenage sociopath Simon Gutmunsson.
Despite Travis’s objections, Emma becomes the conduit between Simon and the FBI team. But while Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s an expert manipulator playing a very long game…and he has his sights set on Emma.
by Lois Duncan
While I refuse to admit that these are historical, I will fully confess this is a classic. If you haven’t read it, and worried about a sinister doppelganger, then get to reading!
Laurie Stratton finally has everything a sixteen-year-old could ever want. But just as her perfect summer comes to a close, things start to unravel when her boyfriend insists he saw her out with another guy – when Laurie was really home sick! More mysterious sightings convince Laurie someone very real is out there, watching her. . . .
The truth reveals a long-lost sister who has spent the years growing bitter and dangerous. She has learned how to haunt Laurie, but the visits soon become perilous. She wants something from Laurie-her life!
New York in the 80s plus dance? Sign me up.
Partly based on the author’s own experiences at the famous Manhattan high school for the performing arts, this novel explores friendship, freedom, and the art of challenging convention.
Set in New York in the 1980s, this story of two ballet dancers (one American, one Russian) recounts the unforgettable night they spend in the city, and celebrates the friendship they form despite their cultural and political differences.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz; Benjamin Alire Sáenz
A good friendship that changes your life. Yes, I need it, I want it, I crave it. And after reading this you will too.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship – the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.