Sunday, November 30, 2014

4 Contemporary Novels That Depict High School Realistically

Unfortunately, I'm still a student in high school. Which might have been a fortunate experience for some, but all I can say about these past three years is: ugh. (On the bright side, anything is better than middle school.)

Although a slightly smaller portion of my reading material is contemporary, I have read enough YA books in the genre to state that there are very few books out there that actually depict high school realistically. Sort of contradicts their being designated as "realistic fiction," doesn't it?

To placate this nuisance, which has been bothering me for the longest time, I've decided to highlight the best novels I've come across that actually make an effort to be accurate in their manifestation of hell high school. Granted, I could only find four, but that's mostly due to the fact that I've only recently began to broaden my horizons into this genre.

The Art of Lainey
1. The Art of Lainey, by Paula Stokes

I read this recently and was unexpectedly entertained. Not only that, but the main character, Lainey, was actually involved in school! She was on the school soccer team, She had normal parents. She stressed about high school like any other senior would. It wasn't the best contemporary novel I've ever read, but hey, it was very realistic in terms of the life of a teen in her last year of high school.

This Song Will Save Your Life
2. This Song Will Save Your Life, by Leila Sales

I didn't like this book. At all. I'll admit it had its shining moments but, all in all, it was disappointing after witnessing the garish attention it had been receiving at the time. If you've read my review, you'd notice that I clearly stated that the book was far too dramatic to be taken seriously. However, after about a year since my completion of the novel, I've had a change of heart. I think This Song Will Save Your Life was realistic, to an extent. It portrayed the darker side of high school in a way that isn't often represented in other contemporary novels, and does not brush over the heavier topics. Plenty of other well-known novels do this, but TSWSYL, in my opinion, handled the issues far better, and even made them relatable, in a way.

Looking for Alibrandi3. Looking for Alibrandi, by Melina Marchetta

All of Marchetta's novels adeptly handle the realities of high school--I mean obviously it's Melina freaking Marchetta. Looking for Alibrandi, though, is special in my heart as it was the first of the author's novels I had ever read. Moreover, this book specifically is probably the best at juggling high school, social life, and family life, and is quite truthful and accurate in its portrayal of life as a teenager.

Mythology (Mythology #1)4. Mythology, by Helen Boswell

Well, technically this is not a contemporary novel--it's fantasy--but it does have very contemporary-esque themes contained in it. Hope Gentry, the protagonist, actually worries about her grades and does her homework and stresses about college in the midst of fighting bad guys. You can't get anymore high school than that, can you?

Which high-school-accurate novels have you come across?


  1. Wow.. Now that you mention it, I can't actually think of any YA novels that accurately represent high school, not even a single one.
    Maybe it's because authors don't want to relive their true high school years so instead they create a 'nicer' version of it?

    On another note, I'm slightly ashamed to say that I haven't read any of the books that you listed above.

  2. Honestly? It took me forever to only find four books. I had to dig through my GR lists, which when you have hundreds of books cataloged, is a pain.

    That's a good point. Maybe they think that's what teens want? That they'd rather have escapist contemporary over realistic? (Nothing wrong with escapism, but it's called realistic fiction for a reason.)