Literature and storytelling can be great mediums of breaking the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. The 6 YA books listed below are all fictional, but are realistic representations of mental health that will provoke your thoughts as well as help you learn a thing or two regarding mental health:
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
This book initially appears as the story of 16-year-old Aza figuring out the mystery of a fugitive billionaire. However, by the end, readers will receive a powerful portrayal of what it’s like to live with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
A story of three different teens, each struggling with their own haunting story of loss caused by an accident in Central Park, New York. It is a painful combination yet a beautiful portrayal of love, family, identity – and their loss.
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
When Ingrid commits suicide, Caitlin feels as if she has been stripped off of all her hopes. However, with time as the plot progresses, she reminisces through Ingrid’s last few days through a journal she had left for Caitlin. With that, this book becomes a precious story of finding the light of hope at the end of a dark tunnel of grief.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
To describe why you should read this book, I will just quote the author’s statement about it that he presented during an interview: “At first it seemed like there was a surge in books about suicide, but lately there have been books that look at mental illness as a part of a person rather than a crisis. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks eloquently about the dangers of a single story. For a long time, suicide was the single story for mental illness, but we’re finally seeing multiple stories, and I’m hopeful that trajectory will continue.” Hope this different perspective regarding mental health will spark your interest.
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
We all have a tendency to stigmatize depression by narrowing it down to a specific form or feeling. However, that is utterly wrong and can prove to be harmful for the people who are suffering from it. And that is why, I recommend to you reading this book by Sales where she shows depression is just not a stereotypical form of grief rather it is much more than that. This story is about 16-year-old Elise Dembowski, who has faced years of bullying and loneliness that almost led her to an attempt at suicide. But when she stumbles across a chance at a new life, as a DJ she regains her confidence and hope.
Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley
Have you ever felt a constant fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or that help wouldn’t be available if things go wrong? There are many people who face this fear on a regular basis and it’s called “Agoraphobia”. In this novel by Whaley, we see the character Lisa Praytor trying to help her former classmate Solomon Reed with his debilitating agoraphobia. Hence, this book will definitely give you a good representation of this specific mental illness.
Written by: Tasnia Shahrin
Tasnia Shahrin loves to talk about books and will not miss any opportunity to throw a list of book titles at your face. To get more of her recommendations follow her @lunchtime_reader.