Realistic

Both Can Be True

Ash is a middle schooler who loves music, is a synesthete who can see sounds, and is figuring out their gender identity after being bullied at their last school for being a “flip flop freak.” It doesn’t help that Ash’s dad is putting more and more pressure on them to just choose a gender and “stick with it.” Then Ash meets Daniel at their new school. Daniel is a photography fan, kind, in-tune with his emotions, scared his parents are going to get a divorce, and mourning the loss of his dog. When Daniel saves an older dog who is about to be euthanized because the owner doesn’t want to care for the elderly dog, their worlds collide and suddenly, Ash and Daniel are pinned together in this mission—save Chewbarka at all costs.

   
Animals    Bullying    Coming of Age    Diversity    Fiction    Inclusiveness    LGBTQ+    Read    Realistic    Staff Picks   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

Lia & Luis Who Has More?

Brazilian American siblings explore math concepts while trying to figure out who has more of their favorite snack. This story includes Portuguese vocabulary along with various measuring terms such as more, less, heavier, lighter, and eventually...equal! This includes a glossary for the Portuguese words used and tips for exploring math concepts with children. Recommended for children ages 3–6.

Reviewed by Christa S.

   
Preschool   
Think Library    Kids   

A Boy Called Bat

Bixby Alexander Tam (Bat, for short) loves all kinds of animals. When Bat's veterinarian mom brings home an orphaned newborn skunk, his focus and goal is to convince her that a skunk might just be a perfect pet. The only trouble is, she insists that the skunk can only stay with them for one short month, just long enough for the baby skunk to grow up enough to transition to a wildlife rehab center. Can Bat convince her to change her mind?  

A sweet and understanding portrayal of a boy on the spectrum, Bat's supportive family and teacher bring to life how it can be difficult to communicate with someone whose mind works differently, and yet, the story never mentions autism at all. When it comes to making friends, and making eye contact, Bat isn't made fun of or judged, and his full focus on his interests is as appreciated as he is. Recommended for ages 8+

Reviewed by Claire C.

   
Animals    Diversity    Fiction    Inclusiveness    Read    Realistic    Staff Picks   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

American As Paneer Pie

Eleven year old Lekha is the only Indian American girl in her school and definitely feels like an outcast in the mostly-white Detroit neighborhood she calls home. Her classmates make ignorant remarks about her family’s culture, language, and tease her about her birthmark (that just so happens to be on her forehead, just like a Bindi).

Lekha has learned to suppress everything that makes her different from everyone else - she never brings her favorite Indian foods to lunch, covers her birthmark with her hair, and stays silent when she, or anyone else, is teased. When a new Desi kid, Avantika, moves in across the street everything begins to change. Avantika speaks up about her culture and celebrates it when all Lekha has done is hide it. Lekha is impressed and embarrassed by Avantika’s ability to lean into her culture and heritage. But when a local political election spawns a hate crime against Lekha’s family, she knows she can’t stay silent and complacent any longer.

   
Bullying    Diversity    Fiction    Friendship    Inclusiveness    Read    Realistic   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

Birdie and Me

Jack and her gender fluid brother, Birdie, are siblings who have to move in with their stoic and no-nonsense uncle after their eccentric uncle proves that he is not a good caretaker after their mother's sudden death. The constant upheaval, new scenery, school, and bullying in their new life throw them through a loop. Through grieving, confronting bullies, and confronting comfort zones -- Birdie, Jack, and both their uncles learn to love and accept each other for who they are. Together, the family creates a new sense of home together. 

   
Coming of Age    Diversity    Family    Inclusiveness    LGBTQ+    Read    Realistic   
Tween   
Think Library    Kids    Reviews   

Never Always Sometimes, Adi Alsaid

Longtime best friends Dave and Julia are determined to live their lives authentically. Dead set against being cliché high school students they create a list of things they swore they’d never do. The list includes things like never dying your hair a wild color and never running for prom king and queen, to never date your best friend. But with two months left of their senior year and nothing left to prove, Julia convinces Dave to set out to break every rule on the list. Of course, things get complicated very quickly.

If you’re looking for a book to help carry you through finals and the end of the school year, Sometimes Always Never is it! Full of crazy antics, charming characters, and a bit of romance, the book will have you looking at what rules you can break in your own life.

   
Realistic   
Think Library    Teens    Reviews   

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Warning: this book contains Serious Issues. You've also been warned that there aren't any angels, zombies, vampires, demons, or changelings. No one has supernatural superhero powers. It isn't set in the future and there has not been an apocalypse. Still interested? Yes! I loved this. Shine by Lauren Myracle is a realistic, gritty and powerful coming of age story that is raw and emotional but also completely worthwhile.

After Cat's friend Patrick is brutally assaulted, marked with a gay slur, and left for dead at a gas station in their hometown of Black Creek, NC she decides to figure out who could have done something so horrible. The sheriff is investigating, but seems sure that it was outsiders - just someone passing through. At face value, this book is a mystery. Cat sets out to interview people who were with Patrick the night of the attack to establish a timeline and she tries to determine motive. Patrick was friends with many people in town who were also uncomfortable to some degree with his homosexuality.

But really the heart of this book isn't so much figuring out who did it, but how the characters come to terms with the resolution. Cat also has to face her own demons in this process.  I liked that she wasn't a superhero, but a girl who got kind of messed up and is really trying to do the right thing. 

   
Shine   
Think Library    Teens    Reviews   

Acid, Projects, and Pit Bulls: Fiction by Paul Griffin

ImageThere are plenty of Young Adult books that portray the difficulties of being a teenager. Some are funny, some serious, and some are pretty dark. There's even a name for ones that focus on a specific issue -- the problem novel (you've got your teen pregnancy, drug abuse, suicide -- you name it). Some are great, but often times the more one topic takes center stage, the less realistic these books seem. It's never just one problem in real life, is it? For pretty much anyone at this age, times are hard all around. Paul Griffin writes about hard times.

   
Animals    Family    Friendship    Mystery    Realistic    Relationships   
Think Library    Teens    Reviews   

SO B. IT

So B. It is a very special novel by Sarah Weeks.  Heidi, a twelve year old girl lives in Reno, Nevada with her mentally disabled mother and a quirky neighbor.  Homeschooled by her neighbor, Bernadette, Heidi lives a very unconventional life.  Her mother has a vocabulary of only 23 words,  Bernadette is afraid to leave her apartment, and Heidi's one friend, Zander, is overweight, loves junk food,  and lives in a world of made up stories.

The mysteries of how Heidi and her mother arrived at the apartment, who pays for their apartment, and what her mother's strange word "soof" means,  haunt the reader as well as Heidi.   When Heidi finds a roll of film and has the photos developed they reveal her mother at a Christmas party held at Hilltop Home in Liberty, New York.   Heidi simply cannot rest until she pieces together Mama's past.  She decides she must travel there alone in order to discover who her mother is, and, in the journey she discovers a great deal about herself.  This book is about identity, asking questions, and living both with and without the answers.  A memorable and unusual story,  So B. It would be great for ages 9 and up.

*Selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

   
Realistic   
Kids   

Split by Avasthi

Some of the best fiction books take a situation of which you have very little first-hand knowledge and through sympathetic characters and solid storytelling create some sort of understanding of what living that life would be like.  Swati Avasthi's first Young Adult novel about domestic violence and abuse, Split, is a great example. Avasthi is able to allow the reader to care about the main character and his struggles with both the violence of his father and the legacy he is hoping to avoid.

Teenage Jace leaves his parents' house with almost nothing after a particularly brutal fight with his father.  He sets off from Chicago with his camera and the New Mexico address of his older brother who disappeared several years earlier.  Jace's brother Christian is less than thrilled to see him with a bruised face despite having come from and escaped the same back ground.  Their transition is rocky and a lesser book would have trivialized this time. Instead their difficulties felt genuine.

   

Split   
Family    Coming of Age    Realistic   
Think Library    Teens    Reviews   

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