5 Young Adult Novels to Help You Teach Magical Realism

October 19, 2018

Magic realism, the matter-of-fact inclusion of fantastic or mythical elements into seemingly realistic fiction, has its origins in Latin American literature, but has also made its way into young adult literature. If your students are struggling with the concept as you read Toni Morrison's Beloved, Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, or another classic in this genre, here five young adult novels featuring magical realism to recommend to secondary students.
Magic realism, the matter-of-fact inclusion of fantastic or mythical elements into seemingly realistic fiction, has its origins in Latin American literature, but has also made its way into young adult literature. If your students are struggling with the concept as you read Toni Morrison's Beloved, Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, or another classic in this genre, here five young adult novels featuring magical realism that I've recently read and would recommend to secondary students. Click the title of each to read my full review and ideas for using it in the classroom.

1. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
This novel is an interesting mix of fantasy and thriller, fairy tale and magical realism. The main character, Alice, is no doubt a nod to Alice of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll. Similar to Carroll's Alice, this Alice is far from perfect. She can be impulsive and is willing to use others to get what she wants. However, her mission is not a selfish one; she is trying to save her mother from whatever forces of evil have captured her.

2. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Mim hops on a bus to see her ailing mother without her father's permission. This teen girl's journey from Mississippi to Ohio, is filled with adventure, misadventure, and a cast of colorful characters.

3. Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black
Blue's mother is deceased, her father was just a sperm donor, her sister Cass took off two year ago, her former best friend doesn't understand her and her old boyfriend is no longer of interest to her. When Blue hasn't heard from Cass in far too long, she makes a deal with the devil, trading her voice for the ability to track down her sister, a journey that will take her across the country and into contact with an array of characters, some good, some evil, and some somewhere in between.

4. Swamplandia by Karen Russell
The Bigtree family own an alligator park, but after Hiola Bigtree, the mother and star of the alligator show dies, things start to fall apart. Ava, the youngest Bigtree, is determined to save the park with a red skinned baby alligator and by replacing her mother in the show.

5. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
In this novel, realistic fiction is infused with fantasy and the supernatural. Mike is just an average senior trying to graduate high school and make it to college, but then there's the zombie-like creatures, explosions, and incidents in the past that adults won't speak of. 

You Might Also Like

0 comments