List me some YA fic that's not fantasy related, please

My tweener niece is tired of fairy tales. She wants stuff that’s more about real people doing cool stuff. Non-fiction is fine. Anne Frank would be a little too harsh a buzz for Christmas, perhaps, but stuff more along those lines.

Fiction is also fine, if there’s a particularly good updated mystery series. But she doesn’t want books about Olden Times. She wants Modern Times.

Which is fine. I’m toying with giving her The Dubliners. But that would be Olden Times, I guess.

How Old is Olden Times? Bud, Not Buddy is set during the Great Depression and is an amazing book. The Watsons Go To Birmingham, 1963 is set even later, but still not modern modern.

I’ve heard good things about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, and have enjoyed other Sherman Alexie stuff I’ve read, but haven’t read this one.

Otherwise, I’m kind of reaching. Have you looked at lists like this?

Gary Paulson’s Hatchet (and all of the other books he’s re-written it as) seems popular among teenagers, the time setting isn’t particularly relevant, and nothing magical happens in it.

Hmmm. There are some really excellent realistic fiction YA classics from the '60s and '70s, for instance:

It’s like this, cat by E. C. Neville, 1964

E. L. Konigsburg’s books, beginning in that same era, are very good, and she kept writing for decades. Silent to the Bone and The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place were written in the 21st century. I’d start with those two.

Middle-school English teacher here:

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief - mystery book and an absolute hoot. There are 17 sequels. I strongly recommend this series.

**Holes **- A bit odd, but I stand firm that this is a really good book

Esperanza Rising - realistic fiction. About a girl who is forced to move from Mexico to the US because of a death in the family.

Pinballs - a great book about foster care kids(who feel like pinballs)

Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Day. Recreation of true story of a native woman who was stranded at the age of 12 on San Nicolas Island off the coast of California in the 19th century. Lived there alone for 18 years. Very evocative. Famous.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green and The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers are ones that come to mind.

ETA I guess the second isn’t YA but the protagonist is a 12 year old girl, and I read it as a young girl.

This intrigues me, so I just got it from the library.

I liked this Life As We Knew It series about the moon getting hit by an asteroid and disrupting everything. Told from the perspective of a teenage girl.

I also enjoyed the Tillerman series by Cynthia Voigt.

I’ve only read one of her books, but Judy Blume is well-regarded, I gather.

Yes yes yes. I was a young girl with no interest in fantasy and I devoured all his books.

I also liked the Anastasia books by Lois Lowry. Not the Russian girl, Lowry’s own character.

I don’t think that a 12 year old should be limited to “children’s books”. Let her read above her level, anything within reason that doesn’t have graphic violence and explicit sex. Detective and mystery stories, thrillers, romance, biographies and other nonfiction - anything that takes her interest.

Let her spend some time on her own looking around a library or a large book store and finding books she likes.

The 39 Clues series by Rick Riordan is a cool, action-packed mystery series:
https://the39clues.scholastic.com/info/about
“Read The 39 Clues books to follow Amy Cahill and her brother Dan as they travel the world to hunt for Clues. Each of the 11 books comes with 6 game cards that reveal important information about the Cahills and unlock a Clue!”

She may have read it already, but Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia is an outstanding example of realistic fiction. Al Capone Does My Shirts was a favorite of my kids when they were tweens.

In the thread on the All-Time Best Newbery Medal Book, many posters loved Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game, which is a mystery novel:
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=818080

Has she read “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster yet? I guess that would be classified as a children’s book, but she’s old enough now to get most of the jokes that she may not have, if she’d read it even four years earlier.

Try the works of Gordon Korman, particularly the MacDonald Hall series.

These are both incredible. Holes is modern. Esperanza Rising is set in the 1920s.

Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s The Egypt Game is really good. It’s about a group of kids having a fantasy that they’re Egyptians in an abandoned storage yard, but the book itself isn’t fantasy.

Some clarification needed: what constitutes “olden times” to your niece?

Also, what’s an “updated” mystery series?

The Dangerous Angels series by Francesca LIa Block is kinda a hybrid of fantasy and real life.

Anne of Green Gables was a favorite.

Andrew Clements’ books are very good, as well.

My first recommendation was Sammy Keyes and I stand by it.

It probably meets all your needs.