Best of the Year, Realistic Fiction

Best of 2019

Picking the best books of the year is always hard. Undoubtedly some great ones get missed. One thing is for sure in 2019. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart solidly beats out all the others. My favorites are those from consistent performers like Kate DiCamillo, but I’ve taken notice of up-and-coming talent like Matthew Landis. 2019 is over, but be sure to add these to your 2020 reading list if you’ve missed them.

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

Ever since Coyote’s mother and two sisters died in a car accident 5 years ago, she and her dad have been wandering the country aimlessly in a renovated school bus. When she receives word from her grandmother that the park where she buried a time capsule is about to be demolished, she hatches a plan to get home by giving rides to a group of quirky wanderers.

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Delsie has lived on Cape Cod with her grandmother since birth. This summer, one friend is busy with theatre and the other has new interests. Luckily, a city boy has arrived and Delsie can’t wait to take him crabbing, clamming, fishing, and lobstering. Together they come to terms with the mothers who walked out of their lives.

The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson

When Nate’s mum wakes him up in the middle of the night to go on holiday, it doesn’t take him long to figure out something isn’t right. The dilapidated cottage they arrive at is anything but cozy. Then his mum runs to town to get food and doesn’t return. Nate must make it on his own with his imaginary friend and a mysterious girl who wants his help finding a treasure.

It’s the End of the World As I Know It by Matthew Landis

Derrick is convinced that a volcano is going to explode in Yellowstone Park and kick off an apocalypse. He is preparing by outfitting a shed in his backyard with survival gear. Then quirky Misty, a kidney transplant survivor, shows up wanting to be Derrick’s Apocalypse Assistant. She has a thing or two to teach him about surviving, but not volcanoes mind you.

The Great Jeff by Tony Abbott

Jeff’s life is slowly unwinding. His mother is an alcoholic and can’t hold down a job. His dad has moved on to a new life. Now Jeff is facing homelessness and he will do whatever it takes to keep the seedy hotels and homeless shelters under wraps from his friends. Disguising the dirty clothes, unwashed hair, and hunger is proving harder than Jeff realized. 

All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey

Red has just been discarded by one foster family and is on to the next. Her tendency to cause wind storms in the midst of emotional discord hasn’t helped. Now she’s at the Groovy Petting Zoo with Jackson and Celine Groovy. It’s the first time a foster family has loved her, but Red can’t let down her wall or her belief that her mother will return for her one day.

Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo

Beverly’s mom is an alcoholic and doesn’t care a hoot about her. When her beloved dog dies, she figures she has no one, and hitches a ride with her cousin to the beach where she gets a job bussing tables and is invited to stay with Iola, a grandmother type who needs someone to drive her to bingo.

The Unteachables by Gordon Korman

The Unteachables, a group of misfits and behavior problems, are a headache to the administration, as is washed up teacher, Mr. Kermit. The superintendent’s plan to get Mr. Kermit to retire early by assigning him to the Unteachables backfires when the kids end up fighting for Mr. Kermit and Mr. Kermit fights for them.

Goodbye, Mr. Spalding by Jennifer Robin Barr

Jimmie Frank and his best friend Lola live in the row houses across from Shibe Field. The country is in the throes of the Great Depression and money is tight. The row house rooftops offer a cheap, unobstructed view of the games. Mr. Shibe isn’t happy about the money he’s losing in ticket sales, so he decides to build a wall. Jimmie Frank will do anything to stop it. Based on true events.

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