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Realistic Fiction

Page history last edited by Tamara Simons 6 years, 9 months ago


What is Contemporary/Realistic Fiction?

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could just give up his or her life at one time or another and become someone else? Don’t say that it’s impossible, because it isn’t!  Kick back and read a Realistic Fiction novel. Realistic fiction is a very popular genre. Many young adults and teens find it more interesting to read about problems or events that can happen to them as well as the character who are like them.
It’s a great way to really get in to a book.  To define the term, realistic fiction is a type of fiction that takes place in modern time. Normally characters are involved in events that can really happen. [1]
So, when did realistic fiction come about? It is said to have its beginnings with the Puritans, who produced lengthy novels that helped teach moral lessons to children.  Books even in the 1940s and 1950s were still serving as stories that gave moral instruction. In the 1960's when the
culture of the family changed dramatically, young adults wanted to read about people who were like themselves. That's where realistic fiction began.[2,3]
These books can range from any topic such as family problems to abusive teenage dating relationships. Some authors that are associated with the label of Contemporary/Realistic Fiction are Joyce Carol Oates, Virginia Wolff, Judy Blume, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, J.D. Salinger, and S.E. Hinton to name a few. 

Young Adult Literature

Young Adult Literature became popular around WWII. One of the first young adult books that was published around that time was "Seventeenth Summer" by Maureen Daly, released in 1942. 

The Golden Age of YA literature arose in the mid 1970's and mid 1980's. They call it that because authors were able to earn their living by writing YA novels and the novels themselves became more interesting. Many more people bought them. Some of the authors from the Golden Age include Judy Blume, Louis Duncan, and Robert Cormier. [4,5]



The Modern Problem Novel/ Realistic Fiction

Realistic Fiction is especially popular with the young adults of our time. Realistic Fiction can be broken down into many different areas. The Modern Problem Novel is one type that has become very popular.The Modern Problem Novel is a realistic novel that has characters, settings, language, and modes that are very different from the novels produced prior to the 1960s, which had the typical "happy ending". The characters are different because they are usually teens or adults that are dealing with a problems such as drugs, gangs, abuse, family issues,abortion etc. The language of these books may have slang words or different dialects because of the area and location the character may be in. Settings may vary but are very important because they show the reader the living conditions or obstacles the character has to deal with on an everyday basis.  [1]




Realistic Fiction Writers

Glovach, Linda Beauty Queen


Beauty Queen is inside look at life as a teenage stripper. Samantha wanted to be independent and live on her own. However, she needed a good paying job, so she became a stripper. You have to have confidence to take off your top in front of people and Samantha didn't have much confidence. To gain confidence, Samantha started doing heroin. The heroin made her into a new person and eventually controlled her entire life. This is a great book. It'll keep your attention until the end.

Rawls, Wilson Where the Red Fern Grows New York: Dell Laurel-Leaf, 1961


The book "Where the Red Fern Grows" is about a teenage boy that wants a good pair of coon hounds. He eventually saves up enough money to buy them himself and he trains them to catch the smartest ringtail coons in Cherokee country.  They get themselves into some tough spots but they always find a way to get free.  This loving group roamed the dark hills and river bottoms looking for the best and oldest raccoons. This book also uses a few old country sayings that contain some similes and metaphors.  It is a great story that will keep you interested all the way to the very end. 

Peters, Julie Anne.Luna: A novel. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2004.


Luna teaches what Transgender America is really like. It shows what transexuals go through - their thoughts and their feelings when people point and laugh or whisper. Julie Anne Peters' inspiration for this story came in her dreams. She had to do research on transsexualism to really understand Luna and express real feelings and thoughts that they would have on a daily basis.

''This particular morning, I remember so vividly, a strong presence woke me. She was a girl, sixteen or so, with shoulder-length blonde hair and bangs. Characters don’t usually come to me so visually distinct and fully formed.

She said, “Write about me.”

I said, "No. Go away. Come back later." She did, the next night. "Write about me." “No,” I said. “But who are you?” She replied, “I’m Luna.” I remember thinking, That would make a great title for a YA novel. But I wasn’t ready to start a new book. I fended Luna off, for weeks and weeks. Finally, I just got so irritated with her waking me up at three A.M., I sniped, “What? Write what? What’s your story?” She smiled, demurely, and said, “I’m transsexual.” Whoa.'' A direct quote from: http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/lit_resources/authors/stories_behind/storypeters.html The novel is about two siblings Regan and Liam who deal with issues of transsexualism. Liam doesn't like the person he is on the outside and feels the person inside of him wanting to come out desperately. With the help of his sister's clothes and make-up at night, he transforms into Luna, the woman he knows he is. But for him the night life isn't enough. One day he decides to reveal her and nothing can stop him~ or can it?  

Beale, Fleur.  I am not Esther. New York: Hyperion, 1998.


I am not Esther by Fleur Beale is a really good book. It takes you into the world of cults and the many things that could happen if you find yourself forced into that kind of life.  The novel is about a young lady named Kirby Greenland. Her life appears to be normal until her mother tells her she has to go to Africa one day. She is taken away  from her homelife and all of her friends, and moves in with Uncle Caleb. However, does Kirby's mother go to Africa? Did her mother abandon her in her time of need? So many questions that need answers. You must sit back and read this psychological thriller to find out all the answers.


Burroughs, Augusten. Running With Scissors. New York: Picador, 2002.


Running With Scissors is about a young boy, Augusten, who grows up in an abusive family. His mom goes crazy and sends him to live with her shrink, Dr. Finch. In this house, Augusten's boundaries are tested and destroyed, leaving him a broken child. He lives with no rules and authority, but still feels trapped. The story goes on, telling of the experiences Augusten goes through and how he reacts to their outcomes.



[1] Donelson, Kenneth L. and Alleen Pace Nilsen. Literature for Today's Young Adults. Boston: Pearson Education, 2005.

[2]Brown, Mary E. “Realistic Fiction”. ILS300: Literature for Children, Southern Connecticut State University. 10 Apr. 2000. Web.12 Dec. 2011 

[3]Rochelle, Warren. “A Sense of Responsibility in Realistic Children’s Fiction”. Emergency Librarian May/Jun 1991: 8 Ebscohost. Web. 13 Dec.2011

[4]Donelson, Kenneth L. and Alleen Pace Nilsen. Literature for Today's Young Adults. Boston: Pearson Education, 2001. Print.

[5]Strickland, Ashley. "A brief history of young adult literature". CNN Living. CNN, 2013. web. 26 Nov.2013.

Comments (6)

unnecessaryreading said

at 12:56 pm on Apr 26, 2010

Does all realistic fiction have to be true or based in the time period of "now" like 2010?

mary hill said

at 2:44 pm on Apr 27, 2010

I love realistic fiction! It has to be one of my favorite types of books to read. "Where the Red Fern Grows" is one of my all-time favorites.

Tamara Simons said

at 2:57 pm on Apr 27, 2010

Of course, realistic fiction doesn't have to be "now." That would be a little strange to 'reclassify' the genre of a book after its publishing date went beyond a certain year. An example would be The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. Although it is set in the sixties, it is still very much a book of realistic fiction. Perhaps you're thinking that it becomes "historical fiction" after a certain amount of time has passed, but that's not accurate at all. Much research goes into the making of a historical fiction novel to be sure that it is historically accurate. Realistic fiction doesn't have to include events and characters or even very accurate settings. It just has to feel like it could have happened.

Spark said

at 3:14 pm on Nov 21, 2013

I love realistic fiction! The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is an excellent example as well as a great novel.

Jessica Gunnell said

at 10:33 am on Nov 25, 2013

As much as times are changing and our culture is changing do you think today's realistic fiction will become something like historical fiction in the coming years?

Rachel Miller said

at 2:41 pm on Apr 28, 2015

A really good realistic fiction book is 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It is a wonderful mind twisting, heart wrenching, tear jerking book. When you read it all emotions come out with such intensity you can't leave them inside and you have to cry, punch a pillow, and grin till your face hurts. It is beautiful.

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