Some fiction is purely for pleasure, and that’s fine. Who doesn’t love to read a Nicholas Sparks book on the beach? But fiction has the purpose of telling a story, and sometimes those stories are real, and raw, and important. Everyone knows what it’s like to have a romance, but the stories we’ve picked give insight to the difficult lives of people with real issues.

1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is a tear-jerking tale of a young black girl who witnesses her best friend being shot by a white policeman. With so much racial tension in America, this book was released at exactly the right time, and faces the turbulence that young black Americans do. The main character, Starr, is faced with the reality that the colour of her skin affects how her life will play out, and she documents the injustices she faces in every day life.

2. The Power by Naomi Alderman

Moving away from her usual fiction, Alderman has produced a very strong piece of feminist literature. In the not so distant future, power is thrust upon women as they develop the ability to shoot electrical pulses from their hands. The shift in power gives them something they once lacked – control. As women begin to take charge of their own destinies and turn on the men who did them wrong, they begin to realise their own worth.

3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The TV series was met with a lot of controversy when it was released earlier this year, but it sends an important message to young people. It tackles endless bullying, sexual assault and depression in a short space of time, told through the tapes Hannah Baker leaves behind after her suicide.

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

It may be set over fifty years ago, but the Help’s relevance is still so relevant for black people in America. It tackles the shift in black people’s rights, and how they’re still working for white people in jobs they hate. Aibileen and her best friend team up with a white wannabe writer, Skeeter, to tell their stories to the world.

5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This shocking and extreme novel explores women’s role in society after a horrific virus makes most of them infertile. The women who remain fertile are forced into sex slavery, and their children are taken from them to give to rich families. Offred, one of the women ‘lucky’ enough to be fertile begins to rebel in every way that she can, while reminiscing about happier times with her family. Fuelled by anger and her want to get her child back, she becomes more and more rash in her decisions/

6. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafza

This may not be fiction, but it’s an inspiring book by an inspiring author. At the age of fifteen, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education. In her autobiography, she describes her experiences and her journey since she survived a near fatal shot to the head. It is a tale of feminism, family and standing up for what you believe in.

7. Wonder by R.J Palacio

August is born with a facial deformity that led him to being kept out of the eyes of society, but now, everything is changing. He’s about to join the fifth grade, and mingle with kids of his own age. He feels that he’s the same as them, but they might not feel the same. He faces the challenges of his disability in a place where not everyone understands him.