Realistic fiction for young adults is sometimes looked down upon as silly and juvenile, but much of it is incredibly well-written. There’s tons of amazing young adult fiction that I think would appeal to readers who typically gravitate toward literary fiction.
But those less familiar with the category might have trouble picking the best titles out of the overwhelming number of book available, especially in realistic and contemporary genres. Many are romance heavy, but it is possible to find coming of age titles that also focus on issues of identity, friendship, and family.
Likewise, fans of young adult will find favorites in adult literary fiction, but wading through the vast amount available to find novels that resonate with them can be tricky.
That’s why this installment of my crossover fiction series focuses on pairing contemporary young adult fiction that has crossover appeal with adult books that fans of YA will enjoy.
Crossover Realistic Fiction
Exit, Pursued by a Bear was one of my favorite books from the first half of 2016. It’s stayed with me months after reading it. Megan Abbott is my go-to author for suspense or thrillers. (Her new book, You Will Know Me, is one of my top picks for summer).
Dare Me, like Exit Pursued by a Bear, is about competitive cheerleading, but that’s not the only reason I’d pair them together. They also look at complicated friendships between young women and deal with a heavy subject—Exit, a sexual assault, and Dare Me, a suicide. But what makes them memorable reads is the nuanced character development.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is one of my all time favorite books. It’s a coming-of-age and coming out story set in 1990s Montana. Cameron loses her parents in an accident and moves in with her Evangelical aunt at the same time she realizes she likes to kiss girls. This novel is funny and heartbreaking and honest and extraordinary.
I’ve paired it wth popular and prolific Jeanette Winterson’s first novel, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, a witty and sensitive novel about an evangelical girl in 1960s England who struggles to reconcile her sexuality and her faith.
Realistic fiction can sometimes be a bit heavy, which is why it’s so refreshing to discover a light and fun novel. I adored To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, a story of a teenager whose younger sister discovers a collection of love letters she’d penned to her crushes over the years, yet never mailed. Guess what happens? Yup. She sends them out for her. While a cute romance, it’s also a story about sisters, which is why I recommend the adult novel, Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley to its fans.
In this story, two sister living on opposite sides of the world promise to stay in touch by writing each other handwritten letters, which include the intimate details of their lives. One sister thought it would be nice to save them on a private blog. Except she actually fails to make private, and then it goes viral. Let’s just say having all those secrets complicates both their lives.
Both are highly relatable, honest stories with flawed and endearing characters.
Why I Love Crossover Books
There’s so much to love about young adult fiction. I appreciate the immediacy of all the conflicts. The intense, intimate voice of the characters can be compelling. I love looking back on all those intense emotions of adolescences. At the same time, I appreciate a reflective tone more common in adult fiction. I like reading about the challenges that come as we age, too. The great thing that no one has to choose between YA and adult books. You can read both! I love introducing teens and fans of YA to great adult books they might not know about. But I also love helping adult readers discover the best on YA fiction.
The only problem is, there’s so many good books out there!
What are your favorite realistic books for teens or adults? Let me know if there’s a genre you’d like me to feature in the crossover series!
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