Books That Are Realistic Fiction

Top 5 Books That Are Realistic Fiction for Tweens and Teens

Before jumping into my list, let’s define realistic fiction a bit more. These are stories that are made up, with fictional characters and settings. However, they depict events that are within the realm of possibility in the real world. Realistic fiction often tackles sensitive topics like bullying, racism, mental health struggles, physical disabilities, and terminal illness. The characters respond in ways real people plausibly would.

Often the themes in realistic fiction books explore coming-of-age issues like identity, relationships, and societal pressures. The stories aim to represent diverse perspectives authentically. The events aim to reflect how the world can be, for better or worse.

While imaginative, realistic fiction creates an immersive experience for readers. The characters, dialogues, and scenarios resonate in a way fantasy or sci-fi sometimes cannot. As an avid reader myself, I find these books transport me deeply into the protagonists’ worlds.

Now let’s explore my top realistic fiction book recommendations for tweens and teens! I’ll summarize what they’re about and key themes. My goal is that you discover engrossing stories to get lost in.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

One of the most powerful realistic fiction books I’ve read in recent years is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This timely story follows Starr, an African American teen who witnesses a white police officer shoot and kill her unarmed friend. Starr must reconcile the double life she lives between her impoverished neighborhood and her affluent, predominantly white prep school.

This book offers an unflinching exploration of racial injustice, police brutality, and finding one’s voice. Thomas crafts a compelling narrative around the timely theme of speaking out against oppression. I ached and celebrated alongside Starr in her journey towards activism. The Hate U Give is one of the most relevant and thought-provoking realistic fiction books in recent memory.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper tells the story of Melody, an elementary school student with cerebral palsy. Melody is unable to walk or talk and uses a wheelchair. However, she has a photographic memory and brilliant mind. The story follows her quest to prove her intelligence and abilities despite low expectations.

This book provides an illuminating window into the life and mind of a person with a physical disability. Melody’s first person narration vividly depicts her frustrations, dreams, and capabilities. Draper’s moving book encourages readers to think critically about inclusion and access. The window into Melody’s rich inner world shatters misconceptions about disabilities. This book stands out for its memorable characters and insightful perspective.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder by R.J. Palacio shares the story of August Pullman, a 10-year-old boy who begins attending mainstream schooling for the first time. August was born with facial deformities and health complications that required countless surgeries. The book explores August’s journey towards acceptance as he navigates the social pressures of starting school.

Palacio writes with sensitivity and heart about themes of bullying, friendship, and finding inner strength. August’s perseverance and humor in the face of cruelty moved me deeply. I’d recommend this book for its empathetic lens on inclusion, appearance-based bullying, and the courage required to be yourself. The characters jump off the page in moments humorous, awkward, and tender.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Few realistic fiction books have stolen my heart like The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It tells the love story between Hazel, a teen living with terminal cancer, and Augustus, a charismatic boy who lost his leg to osteosarcoma. The two bond deeply over big questions that come with facing mortality at a young age.

While heart wrenching, Green also infuses the story with humor and hope. He writes candidly about loss, grief, and finding meaning amid the unfairness of life. Hazel is one of my favorite protagonists for her intelligence, wit, and insights on life and death. Green crafts lyrical yet accessible prose for older middle grade and teen readers. The book stays with you long after turning the final page.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander’s novel in verse, The Crossover, uniquely combines basketball, family, and finding oneself. The story is told from the perspective of 12-year-old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan excel on their middle school basketball team. However, growing tensions at home and in their relationship lead to friction on and off the court.

Alexander’s poems and basketball metaphors vibrantly capture the competitiveness, trash talk, agonies, and joys of the sport. The verses feel musical, energetic, and full of movement. The focus expands beyond basketball to explore deeper themes of brotherhood, parental expectations, and growing up. I’d recommend this quick yet powerful read.

Final Thoughts on These Top Realistic Fiction Books

The realistic fiction books I outlined capture fundamental human stories in poignant, insightful ways. While fictional, they depict relatable scenarios and themes about identity, relationships, loss, and society. These stories feel authentic to how tweens and teens experience the world and their place in it.

I hope these recommendations give you a glimpse into the engaging, thought-provoking stories the realistic fiction genre offers. Whether standing up for justice, overcoming disabilities, finding belonging, facing mortality, or navigating family, these books will resonate deeply. Let me know if you have other favorite realistic fiction titles I should check out too! Now get reading.

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