5 Realistic Young Adult Books

Although I love my young adult stories with a side of magic and fantasy — sometimes I am down for a realistic story. The following five young adult books contain realistic stories and were especially captivating reads. I truly enjoyed the characterization, settings, and even romances featured within these books. Give them a chance — particularly if you’re looking for a fast read.

The following five young adult books contain realistic stories and were especially captivating reads.

More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

5 Realistic Young Adult BooksMore Than Maybe by Erin Hahn
Also by this author: Breaking Her Rules
Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group on July 21, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Girls & Women, Music, Performing Arts, Romance, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

"Like your favorite song, More Than Maybe burrows inside your heart and stays there. Vada and Luke's story of music, family, and first love will shoot to the top of your book playlist. A rich, sweet, rock and roll ride." - Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces and How to Make Friends With the Dark
Growing up under his punk rocker dad’s spotlight, eighteen-year-old Luke Greenly knows fame and wants nothing to do with it. His real love isn’t in front of a crowd, it’s on the page. Hiding his gift and secretly hoarding songs in his bedroom at night, he prefers the anonymous comfort of the locally popular podcast he co-hosts with his outgoing and meddling, far-too-jealousy-inspiringly-happy-with-his-long-term-boyfriend twin brother, Cullen. But that’s not Luke’s only secret. He also has a major un-requited crush on music blogger, Vada Carsewell.
Vada’s got a five year plan: secure a job at the Loud Lizard to learn from local legend (and her mom’s boyfriend) Phil Josephs (check), take over Phil’s music blog (double check), get accepted into Berkeley’s prestigious music journalism program (check, check, check), manage Ann Arbor’s summer concert series and secure a Rolling Stone internship. Luke Greenly is most definitely NOT on the list. So what if his self-deprecating charm and out of this world music knowledge makes her dizzy? Or his brother just released a bootleg recording of Luke singing about some mystery girl on their podcast and she really, really wishes it was her?
In More Than Maybe, Erin Hahn’s swooniest book yet, Luke and Vada must decide how deep their feelings run and what it would mean to give love a try.

Erin Hahn has absolutely been cemented as one of my favorite authors with her latest release, More Than Maybe. This book was another contemporary young adult/new adult, I don’t know the classification romance. There’s music, strong friendship, family dynamics, and what a setting. I loved this book almost as much as You’d Be Mine (I have a soft spot for country music).

More Than Maybe features Vada who is a music blogger who wants to go to Berkley and eventually become a music journalist. It also features Luke, who is a fraternal twin who is one half of a podcasting duo. Vada has all this ambition, whereas Luke is really into composing and has a real talent for music, but doesn’t want the spotlight at all. Luke and Vada end up getting really close as Luke and his brother Cullen record their podcast at the club where Vada works.

I really can’t delve too deep because I do not want to spoil. However, this is the one for you if you like slow burns, sweet characters, driven young women, and positive male father type figures (namely Phil). I ate this book up so quickly during the pandemic. More Than Maybe was a wonderful distraction. It’s really a good read that’ll lighten your mood – even during the serious parts.

The Mall by Megan McCafferty

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

5 Realistic Young Adult BooksThe Mall by Megan McCafferty
Also by this author: Sloppy Firsts, Bumped
Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group on July 28, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Girls & Women, Young Adult Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty returns to her roots with this YA coming of age story set in a New Jersey mall.

The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes and 90210 are, like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she and her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education and happily ever after.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans...

Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, and ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places. Megan McCafferty, beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to The Mall.

The Mall by Megan McCafferty had all my nostalgia neurons firing. I did not come of age in the 1990s nor did we have a mall in easy driving distance. The closest mall was about an hour away and I actually came of age in the early 2000s. However, being a kid during the 1990s and seeing all the Mall Madness commercials, reading this book really took me back. Personally, I really enjoyed my time with The Mall because I felt like I was reading a story from an older cousin.

The Mall follows Cassie Worthy who is about to start working her mall job at America’s Best Cookie after missing out on some major milestones due to mono. She’s also ready to give her boyfriend Troy her v-card, finally. Unfortunately, in one fell swoop she is attacked by a cloud of cucumber melon, broken up with by her boyfriend, and loses her job. Down on her luck, Cassie ends up working in the last place in the mall she’d ever expect – Bellarosa’s. From there, she embarks on a quest for treasure with her ex best friend and spends the summer learning to be less judgmental.

I think if you go in expecting this book to mirror the Jessica Darling books, you’ll be disappointed. If you go in expecting nostalgia for when malls were the place for youth to hang out, you’ll enjoy this trip down memory lane. I don’t necessarily know how actual youth will feel about The Mall. Personally, I enjoyed my time with this book and read it incredibly fast. It’s easily a one sitting read and in these times, I am so here for that.

This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

5 Realistic Young Adult BooksThis Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi
Published by Feiwel & Friends on October 13, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Girls & Women, Young Adult Fiction / Romance / LGBTQ
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

Set over the course of one day, Aminah Mae Safi's This Is All Your Fault is a smart and voice-driven YA novel that follows three young women determined to save their indie bookstore.

Rinn Olivera is finally going to tell her longtime crush AJ that she’s in love with him.

Daniella Korres writes poetry for her own account, but nobody knows it’s her.

Imogen Azar is just trying to make it through the day.

When Rinn, Daniella, and Imogen clock into work at Wild Nights Bookstore on the first day of summer, they’re expecting the hours to drift by the way they always do. Instead, they have to deal with the news that the bookstore is closing. Before the day is out, there’ll be shaved heads, a diva author, and a very large shipment of Air Jordans to contend with.

And it will take all three of them working together if they have any chance to save Wild Nights Bookstore.

I am so excited. I read This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi and I have MULTIPLE books by Safi to read and look forward to. You see, I loved This Is All Your Fault. It’s got a few elements I truly love and they combine in such a winning way. Plus, this book really just spoke to me.

This Is All Your Fault is mostly set in a twenty four hour timeframe. It follows main characters Daniella, Rinn, and Imogene as they try to save the Wild Nights Bookstore that they work at. The girls are each very different. Daniella is a white blonde girl who is angry and writes poetry. Rinn is half Mexican and a book influencer. Imogen is Middle Eastern and experiencing bouts of depression – she shaves her head. The girls are not all best friends and barely get along. However, a lot can happen over twenty four hours.

I loved that this book is positive about therapy. No mental health shaming here. I loved that there is SOME romance, but it is not the whole story. The diversity feels real and not shoehorned in. The characters are all so well written and multidimensional. They’re interesting people and by the end I truly came to care for them. I also loved that this book ends with friendships and I just thought that was beautiful. There’s so many elements that make This Is All Your Fault worth your time – it’s a fast read, the characters are flawed but treated with dignity by the author. This is just a great book, friends. I am pumped to read more from Safi.

Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

5 Realistic Young Adult BooksChasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon and Schuster on November 10, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Humorous / General, Young Adult Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Dating & Sex
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

In this coming-of-age romance perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen, scandal and romance collide when an ambitious teen returns to her hometown only to have her plans interrupted after falling for the town’s “bad boy”—a.k.a. her childhood best friend.

Sometimes to find the good, you have to embrace the bad.

Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…

Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett is the first Jenn Bennett book I’ve read – which is odd because I feel like I am pretty up on reading YA contemporary authors. The cover of this book immediately appealed to me. You see, I am easily suckered in by the promise of a YA contemporary romance. Plus, there’s the New England setting of Beauty, Rhode Island and I was hook line and sinker to read Chasing Lucky.

Josie Saint-Martin has moved from place to place with her single mother, Winona. The time has come for them to return to their home town of Beauty, which they left abruptly five years ago after a blowout between Winona and Josie’s grandmother, Deirdre. As it turns out, Deirdre and Josie’s Aunt Franny will be climbing the mountains in Nepal while Franny processes her grief. This allows for Josie’s mother to manage the family bookstore, the Nook, and live rent free above it so they can save up money for the next move. As it turns out, Josie, a photography enthusiast who eventually wants to be a professional photographer has other plans and dreams of moving to LA to apprentice under her famous photographer father. Complicating these plans is a blast from Josie’s past, her childhood best friend Lucky.

So, as you may guess a friendship reignites between Josie and Lucky which eventually turns into a romance. It’s sweet and intense and my goodness reminiscent of terrible communication skills. I liked that Josie and Lucky were a bit terrible at communicating because I feel like as a teen, it’s not like you automatically have those skills. They’re learned. Thankfully, Chasing Lucky shows the two learning those skills.

On the whole, Chasing Lucky is a fast, kind of dramatic read with a setting that I absolutely loved. While I was not head over heels on the plot, I do see myself reading more from Jenn Bennett. I’ve heard her other books are better and so I can’t wait to get to them.

Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

5 Realistic Young Adult BooksZara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan
on April 6, 2021
Pages: 256
Format: ARC, eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Zara's family has waited years for their visa process to be finalized so that they can officially become US citizens. But it only takes one moment for that dream to come crashing down around them.

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family's dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara's house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara's entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she's ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

From the author of the heart-wrenching yet hopeful (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.

Sabina Khan has such a talent for writing young adult contemporary with compelling main characters. Zara Hossain Is Here comes on the heels of The Love And Lies Of Rukhsana Ali which I loved. I am here to say I also LOVED Zara Hossain Is Here. Talk about an intense read where I was so invested!

Zara Hossain Is Here follows Zara who lives in Texas with her parents. Her dad is a pediatrician. Zara goes to a private school where for the most part she likes it and has a good group of friends. Except, there’s a bully who is a football player named Tyler. One day Tyler pushes a little too far. So her dad goes to his home to try and talk to Tyler’s parents. Only, Tyler’s dad shoots Zara’s dad. Now her parents immigration status that they have worked so hard for is in jeopardy. And so, that is the central theme around which this book revolves — on top of Zara’s regular everyday life.

@realbooksandwine

#Inverted Book Review: Zara Hossain Is Here #booktokover30 #IDeserveTuitionContest #smallbooktokaccounts #ZFlipClackdown

♬ bee – Burbank

Khan is really a master of pacing. I tore through Zara Hossain Is Here. I can’t remember how many days it took — except that I was really absorbed in the story. Zara’s parents are treasures and it was so hard to read about them being treated so terribly. I think I am not naive, so I can’t say this was eye opening, but wow, was it tough to read. The ending or ultimate resolution was also unexpected. I would say you should pick this book up if you like books about resilient teenagers and also want to read a little bit more about the immigrant experience from the perspective of a Pakistani teenage girl.

five-stars
The following two tabs change content below.
April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

%d bloggers like this: