The book, out September 12, follows an 18-year-old girl coming of age during World War II
Millie Bobby Brown is reimagining history. On September 12, the Stranger Things actress will release her debut novel Nineteen Steps. The book builds around her family history by drawing inspiration from stories shared by her grandmother Ruth, a survivor of the 1943 Bethnal Green tube incident that left 173 dead and dozens more injured after panic on a staircase led to a major crowd crush. But Brown’s book takes a less harrowing approach, following the personal life of an 18-year-old girl coming of age during World War II.
“Inspired by my Nanny Ruth, this book is very personal and close to my heart,” Brown shared in a statement. “I grew up listening to stories about her time living through the war. I’m honored to keep her story alive.”
In Nineteen Steps, Nellie Morris, a Bethnal Green resident, navigates maintaining a social life and relationships with her family as war threatens to tear apart the fabric of what she knows to be normal. We’re long past the 1940s, but Brown’s Gen Z audience will likely find a connection to the experience and uncertainty of coming of age during times of national and global distress.
“With a job assisting the mayor and nights spent at the local pub with her best friend, Nellie does her best to hold onto remnants of normalcy,” a synopsis of the novel reads. “After a chance encounter with Ray, an American airman stationed nearby, Nellie becomes enchanted with the idea of a broader world. Just when Nellie begins to embrace an exciting new life with Ray, a terrible incident occurs during an air raid one evening, and the consequences are catastrophic. As the truth about that night is revealed, Nellie’s world is torn apart. When it seems all hope is lost, Nellie finds that, against all odds, love and happiness can triumph.”
Nineteen Steps will be published by HarperCollins with edits from Liz Stein, who described the book as a “tender, inspiring story about female resilience and the human spirit.” She added: “Both heart-warming and heart-breaking, it’s a novel that portrays the strength and courage we find in family, friendship, and community. I was incredibly moved by the haunting, true tragedy at the core of the novel and enchanted by the unforgettable portrait of love in the time of war.”