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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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♬ 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.

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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.

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