"It Really Happened!": YA Fiction Based on True Events

Recently, we posted a list of True Crime books for young adults.  If you're not a fan of true crime/nonfiction books, that's OK.  Here are fiction books whose stories are based on real events.

From YALSA's blog, The Hub.

FAMILY by Micol Ostow

In the 1960s, Melinda leaves an abusive home for San Francisco, meets the charismatic Henry, and follows him to his desert commune, but soon his "family" becomes violent against rich and powerful people and she is compelled to join in.

Based on Charles Mansion's cult.

AMITY by Micol Ostow

Two teens narrate the terrifying days and nights they spend living in a house of horrors.

Based on the Amityville Horror.


In 1930s Munich, the favorite niece of rising political leader Adolph Hitler is torn between duty and love after meeting a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter.

Based on World War II, Hitler and his neice, Geli.

 Other Titles.

SWEET MADNESS by Trisha Leaver

Bridget Sullivan, a maid in the Borden household, describes the events leading up to the murder of Andrew Borden and his second wife, and how the youngest daughter, Lizzie, was put on trial for the crime.

Based on Lizzie Borden.

LOVE IS THE HIGHER LAW by David Leviathan

Three New York City teens express their reactions to the bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and its impact on their lives and the world. 

Based on the September 11, 2001 attacks.

FOREST OF WHISPERS by Jennifer Murgia

Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago... and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting. Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to--one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder--a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe.

Based on the 17th century European witch hunts.

CRANK by Ellen Hopkins

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter, gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina. Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul - her life.

Based on Hopkins' daughter's struggle.

The following titles are adult books suitable for young adult readers.

THE FEVER by Megan Abbott

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community. The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hocky star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community. As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security. 
Based on events in LeRoy, New York in 2012.

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