Nevil Shute's A Town Like Alice
I was in the mood to read something with a plucky girl in it, and I ask you: who is pluckier than Jean Paget? I have read this so many times that I started bawling as soon as she said "I want to dig a well." JEANNNNNNNN. Jean. No one gets things done like Jean. She freaking BUILDS A CITY. If you have never read it, here's the skinny: Jean is a young English woman working in Malaysia when WWII breaks out; along with a bunch of other women and children, she is marched all around the country by Japanese soldiers (b/c there are no prison camps for women and no one knows what to do with them) and it's awful, but Jean makes it work. (This is not historically accurate--although Shute thought such a march had happened, it does not seem to have actually occurred.) Anyway, the whole thing is narrated by an elderly lawyer who's in charge of a sudden inheritance she receives--and who's kiiiiiind of secretly in love with her. And then there is Joe Harman, who merits about a thousand heart-eye emojis. Jean deserves ten thousand though. And we'll throw in a couple for Shute, who has a talent for ending chapters on a cliffhanger and for making me cry.
The usual warnings for racist/orientalist/colonialist language b/c the book was written in the 1950s by a white British man (though it is really not as bad as it could have been).