When the news feels like a barrage of endless disasters and life’s pressures mount, books can provide comfort. Sometimes readers need the escapism of being swept away by books that offer much-needed breathing room from reality. But another source of comfort comes from reading about real people facing significant challenges. They provide reassuring hope about the human spirit, endurance, and capacity for good as well as guideposts for personal action. The following new teen titles cover a wide variety of subjects, time periods, and paths to follow while sharing common themes, including persistence in the face of adversity and taking action in ways that speak to your own community and values.

Inaugural Ballers: The True Story of the First US Women’s Olympic Basketball Team by Andrew Maraniss (Viking, Sept. 13): The members of the first U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team vaulted from obscurity to ultimately become some of the sport’s best-known players, with an impact that still reverberates. Maraniss’ account is a compelling, page-turning read—the story of women who weren’t just “playing for themselves but also for the women before them who had been denied opportunities” as well as “little girls who yearned to hoop, and generations of athletes yet to be born.”

I Could Not Do Otherwise: The Remarkable Life of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker by Sara Latta (Zest Books, Oct. 4): This fascinating account of a complex woman offers essential perspective on those who defy social norms. Passionate and outspoken, Walker held unconventional, progressive attitudes on race and other subjects that often met with censure and dismissal, estranging her even from other contemporary feminists. Latta quotes Walker’s friend Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen, who saw her as a reminder that when considering those who are ahead of contemporary society, “we should have for them not ridicule but reverence.”

Heroines, Rescuers, Rabbis, Spies: Unsung Women of the Holocaust by Sarah Silberstein Swartz, illustrated by Liz Parkes (Second Story Press, Oct. 18): The history of Holocaust heroes is filled with justifiably famous names, but this eye-opening book introduces women who deserve greater recognition for the risks they took and impacts they had. Now, especially, we need to know stories like those of multilingual Polish Jewish photographer Faye Lazebnik Schulman, who lost her entire immediate family to the Nazis. She critically documented both Nazi atrocities and resistance by Jewish partisan guerrilla fighters with whom she lived in the forest.

Black Internet Effect by Shavone Charles, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky (Penguin Workshop, Nov. 8): Charles’ story, told briefly in her own words as part of the Pocket Change Collective series, can be read quickly but will have a lasting impact on those who encounter it. As a high-achieving Black woman in the tech industry, she faced pressures to conform to unspoken expectations in environments where women—and especially women of color—have few role models. Her success, built upon a foundation of mutual support, offers young readers a valuable road map.

The Hope Raisers: How a Group of Young Kenyans Fought To Transform Their Slum and Inspire a Community by Nihar Suthar (Rowman & Littlefield, Nov. 15): Highlighting the value of community-led responses to problems, this fascinating book centers youths from Korogocho, Kenya, where struggles to survive often mean scavenging in a toxic dumpsite, falling prey to sexual exploitation, walking many kilometers to grueling factory jobs, or engaging in crime. Suthar shows how a group of young people used rollerblading and the arts to motivate their peers, raise necessary funds for competitions, advocate for community improvements, and encourage one another to strive toward safer and more promising futures.

Laura Simeon is a young readers’ editor.