Middle Grade Favorites and Their Adult Fiction Counterparts

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Lindsey Williams

Staff Writer

Lindsey Williams is a former teen services library worker who loves talking about books almost as much as she loves reading them. In addition to Book Riot, her work has appeared on The Nerd Daily and in the towering stack of half-filled notebooks in her closet. She lives in Arizona with her husband and their pit bull, Peaches. Find her on Instagram @lindsgillett.

If you’re anything like me, 2020 has you occasionally seeking the comfort of familiar favorites. From revisiting beloved books and movies to re-watching The Office for the 300th time, I have been finding comfort in the predictable familiarity of spending time with things I already know I love.

Revisiting these familiar favorites got me thinking—what would the adult fiction counterparts of my favorite middle grade novels be?

The following list is comprised of five of my most treasured childhood books, and the novels they might be all grown up.

5 Middle Grade Favorites & Their Adult Fiction Counterparts

If you loved Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary, try:

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

A younger sister getting into too much trouble? Check.

An older sister annoyed about being roped into said trouble? Check.

It may not seem like it from title alone, but this story of an older sister, Korede, grappling with how far she’ll go to protect her younger sister, Ayoola, definitely gives me Beezus and Ramona vibes, albeit with much higher stakes and significantly more murder.

If you loved Coraline by Neil Gaiman, try:

The Return by Rachel Harrison

Elise’s best friend Julie vanished. Then, two years from the day she disappeared, she returns. As Elise, Julie, and their group of girlfriends take a trip to reconnect, it seems that all might be back to normal. At least, Elise thinks it’s Julie…

Except why is she emaciated, with sallow skin and odd appetites?

Much like Coraline, The Return includes a creepy old house with long & unsettling hallways, a loved one who isn’t quite who she seems, and an atmosphere eerie enough to keep me up all night.

If you loved Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, try:

The Most Fun We Ever Had book cover

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

As one of four sisters myself, these four-sister books are both near and dear to my heart.

The Most Fun We Ever Had follows the Sorenson family, and their four wildly different daughters, from the 1970s to 2016. The sisters struggle with their relationships with one another, their parents, and themselves while the reader follows them into adulthood. Spending time watching the Sorenson sisters grow up was a reading experience I will not soon forget.

If you loved the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene, try:

The Widows of Malabar Hill book cover

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Set in 1920s India, this mystery comes complete with a courageous and captivating heroine perfect for readers who admired Nancy Drew’s sleuthing skills while growing up.

Perveen Mistry is Bombay’s only female lawyer. In The Widows of Malabar Hill, Perveen is appointed to execute the will of a wealthy mill owner who has left three widows behind. Soon, she realizes something isn’t quite right. When her suspicions begin to rise about certain aspects of the will, she must investigate to ensure that the widows are not being taken advantage of. As the investigation heightens, and tensions rise to murder, Perveen takes on the responsibility of ensuring that no innocent women are in danger.

If you loved Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, try:

Her Body and Other Parties book cover

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark kept me up all night as a kid.

Her Body and Other Parties kept me up all night as a grown woman.

This collection of stories starts with a wonderfully creepy retelling of the classic spooky campfire story “The Green Ribbon,” in which a girl always wears a green ribbon around her neck and refuses to let even her husband know the reasoning behind it.

In Machado’s retelling, The Husband Stitch, the narrator speaks directly to the reader in a way that is so claustrophobic and unsettling, I audibly gasped when reading it for the first time.

This book is now a treasured favorite of mine. It lives permanently on my bedside table so that I can revisit my favorite stories in the dark anytime I please.