Really Good Books About Real Life

Stephen Chbosky.  Ned Vizzini.  Sarah Dessen.  John Green.  What do all of these have in common, you ask?  Aside from being some of the best Young Adult book authors of all time, these four authors all write novels that deal with real teen lives.  I personally love books that deal with real life.  At the top of my teen novel list are The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, which is now a movie, It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, also a movie, all Sarah Dessen books, three of which were adapted into a movie called How to Deal, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green- the movie version comes out this June.

perks_coverThe Perks of Being a Wallflower is officially my favorite book and movie.  I may be a bit biased because of this, but, I am telling you, anyone who reads this book will fall in love.  Extremely well written, containing characters you feel connected to, and ending with a surprising plot twist, I recommend this book a thousand times over to anyone who will listen.

kind_of_a_funny_story_coverIt’s Kind of a Funny Story is an excellent showcase of problems teens face everyday that really should be pointed out.  I watched the movie before realized there was a book (I know, shame on me) and, surprisingly, the movie does the book justice.  I know this is rarely the case with all of the “artistic” changes that take place when a movie is made that is based off of a book, but, with this cast, I don’t think anyone can complain.  Anyways, this book perfectly showcases the ups and downs of a teens life.  The downs include depression, suicide, and mental wards while love and friendship fill the ups.

truth_about_foreverEvery single Sarah Dessen book I have read has left me wanting to read another.  Unlike some authors, Dessen does not write series, but single books that stand by themselves.  And, for a little fun fact, there is always at least one small detail that connects one of the books with another.  For example, she often has a main character run into a minor character from a different book or includes a location that is the main setting of another book, but is just a shop that is passed by and commented on by the character in your book.  It may just be me, but whenever I realize she is connecting her books, it makes me feel like an ultra-fan for noticing.  Some of my favorite books by her are Keeping the MoonThis Lullaby, The Truth About Forever, Just Listen, Lock and Key, Along for the Ride, and What Happened to Goodbye.  

fault_in_our_stars_coverAnd finally, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  This is the only John Green book I have read so far, though I want to read more.  Once again, stupid library-goers are hogging books.  Anyways, this book is definitely a  tear-jerker.  I was sobbing alone in my room when I finished this book.  Now that I have warned you, I can get to describing the amazingness of the novel.  First of all, it is the most well-written book I have ever read.  Green seems to seamlessly weave together teenage “language” (if it can even be considered a language) and eloquent phrases.  Second, you begin to love the characters the moment you meet them.  Lastly, who doesn’t love a good romance?  Overall, this is one of my favorite teen romance novels to date.

I don’t mean Hollywood “real life.”  I mean REAL life problems that are not glorified or made unrealistic because they become too nitty-gritty.  That could be the reasoning behind why I enjoy these books so much.  I feel like too many authors make a happy ending just so they don’t have to go too deep.  But that is what makes these so great.  You can connect with these characters because they are going through the same things you may be experiencing.  Besides, life isn’t always a happy ending, so why should books always have to have one?

– Kaelyn L., 10th grade

Top 5 Coming-of-Age Novels

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photo by flickr user Justin Henry

Coming-of-age novels are written primarily for children ranging from middle school to college and they tell of those times. Coming-of-age novels have influenced and shaped my life more than any other novels and they are essential reading because they can do that! There is a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald which exemplifies the essence of coming of age novels:

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”

I believe that this quote exemplifies themes present in coming of age novels because coming-of-age novels reassure the reader that they are not alone and that there are others who have been through what they have been through and they also open the reader’s eyes to new experiences and ultimately help prepare them for life.

Here are 5 of my favorite coming of age novels!

perks_cover1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
“Perks” was the novel that got me interested in other coming-of-age novels. The book was inspired by both The Catcher in The Rye and A Separate Peace. The story is told through letters between the main character Charlie and an anonymous correspondent. It tells of Charlie’s freshmen year of high school. Charlie is extremely anxious about high school because he has no friends, but he soon befriends Sam and Patrick who help him to have the full high school experience. Throughout the year, Charlie learns a lot about himself and reveals his darkest secret.

separate_peace_cover2. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
A Separate Peace takes place during WWII in a boarding school and is about two friends Phineas (“Finny”) and Gene. Phineas and Gene are polar opposites but they become friends nonetheless. After an accident that takes place between them, Gene learns a lot about Finny and abut life but ends up losing himself.

catcher_in_the_rye_cover3. The Catcher in The Rye by, J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in The Rye revolves around the life of Holden Caulfield. Holden deals with feelings of alienation and angst throughout the entire novel. He thinks that everyone is a phony and cannot find anything worthwhile in the world. He denounces adulthood and longs to revert back to childhood where everything is pure.

kind_of_a_funny_story_cover4. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is centered around the life of Craig. Craig is overwhelmed with life and cannot bear it any longer so he checks himself into the hospital afraid that he might hurt himself. While in the hospital, Craig meets people who change him and after being discharged from the hospital he learned that he does want to live and that he wants to live life to its fullest.

fault_in_our_stars_cover5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
TFiOs is about Hazel and Augustus: two teens struggling with cancer who fall in love. The story progresses as their health declines. It depicts the trials and tribulations of their complicated relationship.

-Sarah B., 12th grade