For me, realistic fiction is probably my least favorite genre. When I read, I want to escape the humdrums of normal life and be swept away by something grander, more romantic, more fantastical than every day life. I have only read three pieces of realistic fiction recently that knocked my socks off: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green, THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky, and THE FALL: An Autobiography of an Altar Ego by Elle. However, I own several copies of classic realistic fiction that I re-read to this day: LITTLE WOMEN, LITTLE MEN, THE ADVENTURE OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE GRAPES OF WRATH and OF MICE AND MEN.
To find the characteristics of realistic fiction, one doesn’t have to go far from looking in the mirror or examining the world. The characters are believable, the themes plausible, and the plots convincing. The language is often colloquial, and there are very view romantic perceptions of the world. The world is what it is and you and the characters travel along trying to deal with it.
Common themes in realistic fiction, especially YA fiction include problems, humor, and coming- of-age. Problem themes can include bullying, sexual/mental/physical abuse, drug addiction. Humor themes have the characters in peculiar, funny outrageous predicaments and they have to use their ingenuity and crafty skills to get out of the mess. I find this a lot in middle grade novels as younger kids, I think, relate more to this than more serious issues that arise in the later teen years. Coming-of-age stories are always a winner with teens as they show how the protagonists leaves his innocence behind and grows into a confident, strong individual. In my opinion, if you’re writing any YA story, this later theme should be prevalent across the board, in any genre you write. The protagonist has to grow, has to learn. It’s part of growing up.
What are some good YA realistic fiction novels to dive into? I’ve been told the following are fantastic. They’re on my TBR list.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (goodreadsgreatreviews.wordpress.com)
- 2013 Time For Kids summer book review (sacbee.com)
- 5 Steps to Writing Realistic Historical Fiction – With Amy Carol Reeves (chgriffin.com)