What is Realistic Fiction?

Have you ever read a book and thought, “that sounds like something that actually happened!”. Realistic fiction isn’t a story from real life but it sure can seem that way because it’s so believable. If you are reading a book and you aren’t sure if it falls into this genre, let’s take a closer look to see!

What Is Realistic Fiction?

Realistic fiction is still fiction! The characters are made up and the situations aren’t real either. What makes realistic fiction feel so real is that the problems the characters have and the place they live sound real! A character may live in a town similar to your own or be dealing with problems you, your family or your friends have faced.

Realistic fiction is different from other fiction because the contents of the book could actually happen in real life. A lot of books we read we wish were real but they aren’t realistic. For example, we may hope we get our letter inviting us to Hogwarts like Harry Potter did but it isn’t realistic because we haven’t been to Hogwarts nor do we know anyone else who has!

Is Realistic Fiction the Same As Historical Fiction?

The main difference between realistic fiction and historical fiction is the setting. A book that is historical fiction takes place in the past and the former genre takes place in the present.

A good example of historical fiction is the book “Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry.” This book is realistic but it takes place in the 1930s, not today. The problems the characters face are problems that were common during the 1930s but they wouldn’t face in the same way today.

Historical fiction is also likely to be based on an actual event or something of historical significance (like slavery).  Realistic fiction is more likely to be based on an individual character’s struggle (not a problem all of society faces together) and sounds real but didn’t actually happen.

Is the Book I’m Reading Realistic Fiction?

Now, let’s put everything we learned together and see if the book you are reading is realistic fiction! If you answer “yes” to the questions below, it’s a pretty good sign the book you are reading falls into this genre:

  • Is the setting of the book a real place or does it sound like it could be a real place?
  • Does the book take place in the present?
  • Does the main character face a problem that people face in real life?
  • Does the book end with the main character understanding themselves or other characters better?

As an example, let’s take the book “A Fault In Our Stars” and see if it’s realistic fiction based on these questions!

  • Yes: “A Fault In Our Stars” is set in Indianapolis and the main characters go on a trip to Amsterdam in Holland.
  • Yes: Hazel and Augustus have phones, play video games and live in a world similar to our own world right now (for example, there aren’t flying cars like it’s the future or black and white TVs that make it feel like a different era).
  • Yes: A lot of families in real life know someone who has cancer or have a family member that is very sick.
  • Yes: Although it’s really sad, Hazel understands herself and her own mortality better by the end of the book.

What Are Some Examples?

If you like realistic fiction, there are plenty of books for you to read! Here are a few you may like with a short description:

“Crash” by Jerry Spinelli: Jerry Spinelli writes lots of great realistic fiction! “Crash” is a story of a popular seventh grade bully and some unexpected surprises that affect his life!

“Walk Two Moons” by Sharon Creech: In this book the main character Sal travels across the United States with her grandparents to see her mom in Idaho. Along the way, Sal tells her grandparents a story about her friend, Phoebe.

“Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson: This book is fun if you like stories that feel real, but also love fantasy! This book focuses on two kids and their imaginary world in the woods (they know it’s make-believe, that’s why it’s still realistic fiction).