Archive for the 'Realistic Fiction' Category

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 449

Iowa Award Winner 2018-19

Emily and Sloane have been best friends ever since Sloane moved to town. They do everything together and Emily feels braver and more adventurous when she’s with Sloane, which is why it’s so hard when Sloane disappears one day. She stops answering her phone and her house suddenly seems abandoned.  Meanwhile, Emily’s parents have become suddenly absorbed in a new play they are writing and she feels she has no one to talk to.  Then one day Emily receives a list in the mail from Sloane of crazy things to do this summer and she thinks that if she does them she’ll somehow find Sloane.  Along her journey through the list she gets a job where she meets a new friend, and gets to know a boy from school she previously thought was too good for her.  She also does many crazy things she never thought she’d have the courage to do.  As she moves and changes, though, she still misses her best friend and hopes to find out where she’s gone.

This coming of age story about friendship is relatable to any high school student who has needed help finding their true personality as they grow up.  It’s easy to get caught up with what friends like or don’t like, but eventually we all have to find our true self and be brave enough to share it with others.  Emily’s story shows how intimidating that can be while also revealing how amazing the results can be when you put yourself out there. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han will love this story and will not be disappointed by the ending.  The list is fun, but it’s the characters who really shine.


Zero Day by Jan Gangsei

Genre: Mystery/realistic fiction

# of Pages:  359

2018-19 Iowa High School Award Winner

Addie Webster was kidnapped from her home when she was 8 and there has been no trace of her ever since.  Then, after her father becomes president of the U.S. she mysteriously shows up again and claims to have escaped from her terrible captors.  The head of the NSA finds her story troublesome and enlists her former best friend, Darrow, to keep an eye on her and see if she does anything unusual.  Darrow is offended at first, but unfortunately has some deeds in his past he would prefer did not become public and agrees to keep an eye on Addie.  He is surprised to find that she does exhibit some unusual behavior, such as being able to hack and take down a video posted by a bully in a threatening manner.  He’s happy she did it of course, but where did she get such computer skills if she was raised in a compound with no connections to the modern world? What is she up to and how far will she go to get what she wants?  Most importantly, is any part of her still the Addie he remembers playing board games with as children?

This book is fun, surprising, and fast paced.  Readers will enjoy the unusual set up, but will most likely see through some of the lies that take Addie awhile to figure out.  It is set up to continue and I’m sure that readers will want more after the exciting ending and subsequent cliffhanger.  Many of the characters are not fully developed, but as the series continues I’m sure they will develop further.  This would be a popular title to share with reluctant readers, not because of its length, but because of its ability to grab the reader from the very beginning and keep him or her guessing until the very end.


The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

Genre: Mystery

# of Pages:  421

On their very first day of school, six kindergartners are mysteriously abducted from school and do not surface for eleven years when they are all mysteriously dropped off with no memories and only their parents’ addresses clutched in their hands.  One of the original six, Max, does not return with the others and the realization that he hasn’t returned breaks his family even more.  His sister, Avery, decides to start investigating on her own to see if she can find out where Max is.  The others, meanwhile are struggling as well.  Scarlet comes home to a mother who has become obsessed with the idea that aliens stole her daughter and Caleb comes home in time to witness a tragedy.  They have been told repeatedly that it’s probably a good thing they can’t remember the last eleven years and the horrors they witnessed, but most of them still want to know where they have been especially since they are exhibiting knowledge in certain areas and they don’t know why.  They have missed most of their childhood and they each need to figure out how they fit into their own lives again.  Will they ever learn the truth behind their disappearance?  Where is Max?

Mystery readers will love this book because it is engaging, but also believable with many unusual facts they need to put together in order to get a general idea for what happened to them.  They know they may never know everything, but even learning the person responsible would be helpful when trying to move on.  The characters are all developed so that the reader can understand their feelings and motivations, while also understanding how hard it would be to go through something like this.  The ending is also very satisfying while not being too tidy or predictable.  Recommended.

The Possible by Tara Altebrando

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  292

Kaylee lives a fairly ordinary life for a teenage girl until she is approached by a woman doing a podcast on Kaylee’s birth mom.  Kaylee’s birth mom is famous for possibly having telekinetic powers based on a photo taken when she was a teen, although her powers were never proven. She’s also known for murdering her infant son and going to prison for it, which is why Kaylee has lived with her adoptive parents ever since and has no memory of her life with her mom at all.  Kaylee’s parents are against her interviewing for the podcast because they are afraid it will dredge up painful memories, but Kaylee feels like she needs to know the truth about her mom and agrees to help.  Once the podcast begins airing it becomes a local phenomenon and many of Kaylee’s classmates begin to wonder if she has telekinetic powers too since she is an excellent softball pitcher and a girl she doesn’t particularly like gets hit by a falling tree branch.  Suddenly, Kaylee isn’t sure what to believe anymore.  Is it possible her mother has special abilities and if so, could she?

This story is engaging right from the beginning.  Kaylee’s need to meet her mother and bring closure to her past is all very understandable, but it plays out very realistically and that’s hard for her to handle.  As she navigates through the twists and turns in this story, Kaylee learns a lot about herself, her parents, her mom, and her friends.  The ending is satisfying, but it’s the realistic writing style that will really help readers to identify with and care about Kaylee and her story.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

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357 p.

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

Louna works for her mother’s successful wedding planning business, but after having her heart broken a year prior she is not sure there is such a thing as a happy ever after.  Her mother and her mother’s business partner, William, also feel this way and Louna worries they are getting too pessimistic and jaded.  Then, they meet Ambrose who is the crazy optimistic little brother of a bride and nothing ever seems to get him down.  At first Louna sees this as simply shirking responsibility and not caring about his future, but after he lands a summer job working alongside her, she begins to see he is just hopelessly helpful and always hopeful that everything will work out positively.  Eventually, Louna realizes she wants to be more like that, but will that mean officially “getting over” the terrible thing that happened in her past relationship?  Will she ever really have a chance at another true love?

Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this new title, but the characters don’t quite stick with the reader the way they do in some of her other books such as The Truth About Forever.  The way Louna’s previous relationship ended definitely adds a unique twist that will surprise readers.  Overall, a fun, fast story for readers who love romances.

Gutless by Carl Deuker

Genre:  Sports Fiction

# of Pages:  329

Brock Ripley has always considered himself gutless because he tends to shy away from aggressive plays in all sports.  He’s even considering quitting soccer for next season because he feels responsible for losing the championship game for his team.  Then, he’s asked to play with Hunter Gates in the local park because he needs to practice throwing the football to someone.  He’s nervous, but Hunter is the kind of guy you do not say no to and you desperately try not to get on his bad side.  Brock is fast and has an eye for the ball, but is terrified of getting tackles in a real football setting.  Hunter’s dad tries to convince Brock to try out for football because they think the two of them could be a good pair.  Brock’s parents need some serious convincing to let him even try out, but as a freshmen who has never played before he ends up on the freshmen team and even on that he is not a superstar.  Meanwhile, he befriends an outgoing, silly, nerdy, Asian kid named Richie who immediately becomes a target for bullying from Hunter and his friends.  As Brock tries to be friends with Richie and play on the football team he finds himself ignoring the harsh treatment that Richie keeps getting from the older, bigger players.  Eventually things escalate and Brock must decide whose side he’s going to be on.

Fans of sports fiction will once again enjoy this new addition by Carl Deuker.  He includes both football and soccer action that sports fans will love, but also includes a lot on the topic of bullying that is so timely today.  The foreshadowing will instantly put the reader on alert with a sense of foreboding, but the characters are engaging enough that you have to keep reading to find out what happens.

Striking Terror by Denis Lipman


Genre:  Mystery/Adventure

# of Pages:  310

The author of this book, Denis Lipman, is a former magician and therefore has the tools to create a unique and exciting story for young adults.  It’s about a young magician named Micah who is sent to live in Israel and ends up unknowingly befriending a terrorist, Shireen.  When Shireen begins to rethink her plans both she and Micah are forced to go on the run and use Micah’s techniques of illusion to escape capture.  All of this action builds to a very exciting and satisfying ending.

This story describes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a way that no other young adult book does, which makes it interesting to young readers who do not know much about this event.  At the same time, the use of magic and illusion is fun and fresh and engages reluctant readers right away.  The inclusion of magic in the plot is done so in a completely believable and understandable way, which goes toward Lipman’s experience with magic and illusion.  Highly recommended for students who enjoy a lot of action and plot development.