Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Mental Health Awareness Month

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is...

YA Mental Health Books!


Having been in and out of therapy since I was in single digits, I tend to have a special interest in mental health books. Since this is mental health awareness month, I wanted to feature some YA books featuring mental health, which I have an appreciation for.

Turtles All the Way Down
John Green
Mental Health Representation: OCD
Series: n/a
Publisher: Dutton Books

I love John Green and all the fabulous characters and stories he gifts us with, but what set this book apart from the rest, was how he shared his struggle with OCD with us. He did an incredible job pulling me into Aza's mind, and it really gave me some insight as to what some people with OCD may be dealing with.

It's Kind of a Funny Story
Ned Vizzini
Mental Health Representation: Depression
Series: n/a
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

This is one of the books I read, which I probably related to the most. I did my first in-treatment, when I was in college, and therefore, of a similar age of Vizzini's MC. I found this book to be very honest, and I appreciated how he depicted the reactions of family and friends, as well as how the other patients were respected as human beings and addressed with compassion.

Finding Audrey
Sophie Kinsella
Mental Health Representation: Anxiety
Series: n/a
Publisher: Delacorte Books

Social anxiety and depression are things I am acquainted with first hand, and I really appreciated the way Kinsella handled Audrey's issues. Kinsella showed that Audrey's issues were real, she could recover, but the recovery would not happen overnight. She also gently conveyed the effects on the rest of the family. It was sort of honest.

Every Last Word
Tamara Ireland Stone
Mental Health Representation: OCD
Series: n/a
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

I totally understood Sam's need to be normal -- no shrink, no drugs, and control over her own thoughts. I understood this need to keep this part of herself hidden. Stone also presented a version of OCD we don't see often, Obsessional OCD, and I felt like she explored Sam's OCD in a very thoughtful and honest way.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
Mental Health Representation: Depression, Suicidal Thoughts
Series: n/a
Publisher: Pocket Books

This book! I felt so much for Charlie, and I wanted him to get help for all the pain and fallout he was experiencing following some really traumatic years. Chbosky did a fantastic job pulling me into Charlie's head and his pain. His emotions became my emotions. So good.

Love and Other Alien Experiences
Kerry Winfrey
Mental Health Representation: Anxiety, Agoraphobia
Series: n/a
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Mallory had anxiety disorder which blossomed into agoraphobia. I thought Winfrey really did an admirable job capturing that struggle of wanting to be able to conquer something, but not quite being able to. Mallory was trying to manage her disorder by working with a therapists and making small efforts such as going out into the backyard. Sometimes it was one step forward, two steps back. I thought Winfrey handled her disorder with care, and her journey seemed realistic to me.

When We Collided
Emery Lord
Mental Health Representation: Bipolar Disorder
Series: n/a
Publisher: Bloomsbury

I will not lie, many of the things Lord wrote about depression hit close to home for me. I found myself nodding my head as I read many of the descriptions of depression. I also may have gotten misty or full-out cried a few times. Vivi was such a force, and I really liked a lot of the things Vivi had to say with respect to her illness and the way other people treat/should treat those struggling with mental illness. 

All the Bright Places
Jennifer Niven
Mental Health Representation: Bipolar Disorder
Series: n/a
Publisher: Knopf

This book has left an open, gaping wound in my heart. I commend Niven on her ability to get us into Theo's mind. Even before the phrase was uttered, I knew he was bipolar. I could totally sense the mania in his chapters. She also created a beautiful soul. There was so much more to Theo then his illness, and Niven did a wonderful job of conveying that we are more than our illness. I think Theo would appreciate this. 

Just Listen
Sarah Dessen
Mental Health Representation: Disordered Eating, Depression
Series: n/a
Publisher: Viking Books

Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors, and she always incorporates issues into her stories in such a meaningful and organic way. I love the way she explores so many issues in this book. She touches upon: sexual assault, eating disorders, depression, anger management, toxic friendships, and family dynamics.

How to Disappear
Sharon Huss Roat
Mental Health Representation: Social Anxiety
Series: n/a
Publisher: Harper Teen

I so easily related to Vicky. My anxiety is not quite as severe as her's, but I understood her. I was very proud of each step she took, because I understood how difficult it was for her to accomplish each task, which seem so mundane to most. Vicky was by no means cured over the course of this book, but she definitely experienced a lot of growth, and it was a beautiful thing to see.




What are some of your favorite mental health books?
Let us know in the comments!

40 comments:

  1. Oh there's stuff here I need to read- I love that YA is making such strides in addressing mental health issues! How To Disappear sounds great, and so does Turtles All The Way Down, looking at OCD. And Every Last Word is one I haven't heard of, but I like the sound of that too!

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    1. Like we always hear in YA, everybody wants to be seen, and mental health has been treated as a dirty little secret for so long. I know it's a comfort for me to see MH books out there. Every Last Word was interesting, because it was a different form of OCD then one usually sees in media.

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  2. Great topic! I love John Green but I still need to read Turtles All the Way Down. However, I LOVE Perks of Being a Wallflower - one of my all time favorites, and just...Charlie!! *hugs* I also really loved It's Kind of a Funny Story when I was younger.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I think if you love Green, you will love Turtles. Aza was a great character. I found her fascinating.

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  3. How to Disappear was such an amazing book. I related to Vicky in some ways, in wanting to stay in the background and not draw attention to myself. I loved watching her growth, as well.

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    1. So glad someone else is giving HtD some praise. I thought it was phenomenal and would love to see more people raving about it.

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  4. I have All the Bright Places. I need to read it.
    My TTT.

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    1. Just prepare yourself for some heartache, but it really is wonderful.

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  5. What a great topic! I agree completely on Turtles All the Way Down and on Perks of Being a Wallflower. You may be interested in my post on reading Wallflower and how it affected me: https://hopewellslibraryoflife.wordpress.com/2017/09/28/reflections-on-the-perks-of-being-a-wallflower-or-finding-myself-at-54-thanks-to-a-ya-book-2/

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    1. Thanks for the link! Turtles and Perks are definitely standout books.

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  6. I’ve actually read most of these! I LOVE Perks. It’s one of my favorite books ever. I also related really hard to It’s Kind Of A Funny Story. Great list!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. Yeah that you read so many of these. I seldom hear people say that about my top ten lists XD

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  7. I'll admit, I don't read contemporary and I tend to stay away from heavy topics. I have always wanted to read All the Bright Places though!

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    1. ATBP is sort of painful, but there is so much joy too. I am not a huge issues book person, but mental health is something I am interested in, and I read a lot of MH books.

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  8. I have yet to read 'Turtles All the Way Down'. From what I've heard it's awesome! I've watched the movie to 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower', I don't know how it compares to the book, but it was a good movie :)

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    1. I think the film adaptation of Perks was good, because Chbosky wrote the book and the screenplay, and directed the film.

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  9. Thank you for this list! Mental health contemporaries tend to be my favourite kinds as they're not usually as romance focused as some others, so I'm always looking out for good recs :)
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/top-ten-tuesday-159/

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    1. I think there was some romance in all of these (sorry), but for me that's a plus.

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  10. A great list. I would have to go back and dig through my books to find my list of mental health books. I so love the issue books that are done well. Thanks for sharing, Sam.

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    1. I seem to have read quite a few mental health books. I was really surprised, but also happy that there are so many out there to read.

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  11. I've read some of these, but it looks like I have a few to add to my TBR. Thanks for sharing your own personal thoughts and feelings about these as someone who has struggled with some of these issues!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I really don't comment on rep a lot, but I feel I can when it comes to mental health, and I am really glad that there are so many quality books out there to help spread some awareness. Especially that this is not a one size fits all thing.

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  12. It’s amazing how far YA has come in addressing mental health issues. And interesting to get your take on them and how you related to several. I remember reading about Charlie (Perks) and just hurting for him so much.

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    1. Charlie is definitely one of my favorite MCs, and Chbosky did such a wonderful job conveying his pain and suffering to us.

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  13. Great list! I also really like Beast by Brie Spangler which is a rewriting of the Beauty and the Beast tale addressing depression and self-harm.

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    1. I remember seeing Beast, but I had no idea what it was about. I will have to check that out. Thanks!

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  14. Great list!! Finding Audrey is on my list to read <3

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    1. I love Kinsella so much, so I obviously had to read Audrey, but it was great.

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  15. Fantastic. I never thought I'd be interested in picking up another John Green novel, but Turtles All the Way Down as been praised so much.

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    1. I love Green, and what sets this book apart from the rest is that it was so personal.

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  16. I love the spin you put on this week's topic. I haven't read all of these books yet but the ones I have read from your list do such a fantastic job of spotlighting mental illness. They're important not just to educate those who want to better understand the illnesses, but also for those who have them to help them know they're not alone in what they're experiencing.

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    1. That's exactly why it's great that books like these are being written. To show that many people live with these same illnesses. I actually really appreciate the ones, which do not end in tragedy (though one of my picks does), because they show how the illness can be manageable, and give some hope to those of us, who are suffering.

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  17. Oooh, there are definitely a couple here I need to know more about!

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    1. It was hard to pick just 10, because the quality of YA mental health books gets better and better every year.

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  18. This is an awesome list!! I have read several of these, I definitely think they all had at least decent rep. Turtles was really good in that respect. Some of my favorites... FontD Touch by Rachel Wilson, Challenger Deep, umm... Made You Up by Francesca Zappia. I could probably come up with more too 😊

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    1. I have Made You Up, and during the summer I will have a LOT less review books. I hope to hit up the backlist then. Challenger Deep is a priority for me too, because, well, Shusterman, and I have not read any books about schizophrenia.

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  19. Yes!!! I love this post, thank you. I also have been in therapy for a while and I'm always love to read about mental health. I'm so glad YA literature is finally giving representation and that it's beinging viewed less and less as taboo. I have read some of these books and they are all great. Thank you for this great post. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. 💋 xoxo

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    1. YA is definitely trying to show that mental health issues arise, and I like that I can read different books with characters suffering from the same mental health ailment, and their experience is NOT the same. I saw it all the time in group, and there is this misconception that it's the same for everyone out there that really rubs me the wrong way.

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  20. I have read All the Bright Places and Perks. 👍

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    1. Both excellent books, which made me cry a lot. XD

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