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Recommended Contemporary Realistic Fiction for Teens

Contemporary realistic fiction takes place in the present and covers topics that are likely to happen in real life. These novels explore many common issues for modern teenagers. Looking for a funny story? Jump down to the "Humor" section. 

All American boys by Jason Reynolds

When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn's alternating viewpoints.

American street by Ibi Zoboi

When Fabiola's mother is detained upon their arrival to the United States, Fabiola must navigate her loud American cousins, the grittiness of Detroit's west side, a new school, and a surprising romance all on her own.

Calling my name by Liara Tamani

"Taja Brown, growing up in a conservative and tightly knit African American family, battles family expectations to discover a sense of self and find her unique voice and purpose"--.

Challenger deep by Neal Shusterman

As he struggles with schizophrenia, a teenage boy believes he is on a journey to reach the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest place on Earth.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

When twin sisters Cath and Wren go to college, Cath fears that it may be time to give up her love of the Simon Snow series, and possibly grow apart from her sister.

I'll give you the sun by Jandy Nelson

A story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal told from different points in time, and in separate voices, by artists Jude and her twin brother Noah.

The inexplicable logic of my life by Benjamin Alire Saenz

"A story set on the American border with Mexico, about family and friendship, life and death, and one teen struggling to understand what his adoption does and doesn't mean about who he is"--.

A list of cages by Robin Roe

"Adam,a high school senior, rescues Julian, a freshman, from an abusive situation"--.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

"When she learns that her mother is sick in Ohio, Mim confronts her demons on a thousand-mile odyssey from Mississippi that redefines her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane"--.

The other F-word by Natasha Friend

"A teen girl who was conceived via in vitro fertilization goes off in search for answers about her past"--.

Paper towns by John Green

When her best friend, whom she secretly loves, betrays her and then dies under mysterious circumstances, high school senior Vera Dietz struggles with secrets that could help clear his name.

Saints and misfits by S. K. Ali

Fifteen-year-old Janna Yusuf, a Flannery O'Connor-obsessed book nerd and the daughter of the only divorced mother at their mosque, tries to make sense of the events that follow when her best friend's cousin--a holy star in the Muslim community--attempts to assault her at the end of sophomore year.

Humor

After a brush with the law, Ben, a dyed-in-the-wool worrier, must take up a new hobby and chooses knitting, an activity at which he excels but must try to keep secret from his friends, enemies, and sports-obsessed father.

Dan versus nature by Don Calame
Going bovine by Libba Bray

In an attempt to find a cure after being diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob (aka mad cow) disease, Cameron Smith, a disaffected sixteen-year-old boy, sets off on a road trip with a death-obsessed video gaming dwarf he meets in the hospital.

"After producing three horror films that went mostly ignored on YouTube, fifteen-year-old Justin and his filmmaking buddies decide it's time to make something epic"--.

Seventeen-year-old Greg has managed to become part of every social group at his Pittsburgh high school without having any friends, but his life changes when his mother forces him to befriend Rachel, a girl he once knew in Hebrew school who has leukemia.

Winger by Andrew Smith

Two years younger than his classmates at a prestigious boarding school, fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean West grapples with living in the dorm for troublemakers, falling for his female best friend who thinks of him as just a kid, and playing wing on the Varsity rugby team with some of his frightening new dorm-mates.