10 YA Books That Get Mental Health Right
Jennifer Niven, Holly Bourne, Emery Lord and more.
Accurately depicting mental health is tough. Get it wrong and you fall straight into the pit of outdated myths and tropes that have a lot to do with the stigmatisation and misunderstanding of mental health illnesses that's plagued us all since time began.
Get it right and you can not only connect with those who deal with MHIs every single day, but potentially also help those who don’t have direct experience understand a little more about what it can be like.
Here's a few contemporary YA authors we love who are doing just that..
Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne
What we love about this book is that Evie is not reduced to her condition. She might have OCD and that make her life complicated, but it’s not the only complication: there’s also college, friends, feminism and first loves to deal with too.
All she wants is to be normal. But does normal even really exist?
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
When 17-year-old Lennie’s big sister dies, she finds herself sinking in a sea of grief.
Her struggle to stay afloat draws Lennie towards two boys: one who takes her out of her sorrow, the other who comforts her in it. But the two can't collide without Lennie's world exploding first.
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
OCD-afflicted seventeen-year-old, Griffin, has just lost his first love – his best friend, ex-boyfriend and the boy he believed to be his ultimate life partner – in a drowning accident.
In a desperate attempt to hold onto every last piece of the past, Griffin forges a friendship with Theo’s new college boyfriend, Jackson. But as the grieving pair grows closer, you might begin to question Griffin's own version of the truth – both in terms of what he’s willing to hide, and what true love ultimately means...
Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley
Sixteen-year-old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn't left his house in 3 years. Ambitious Lisa is desperate to get into a top-tier psychology program. And so when Lisa learns about Solomon, she decides to befriend him, cure him, and then write about it for her college application.
To earn Solomon's trust, she introduces him to her boyfriend Clark, and starts to reveal her own secrets. But what started as an experiment leads to a real friendship, with all three growing close. But when the truth comes out, what erupts could destroy them all.
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom.
And when they pair up on a project to discover the 'natural wonders' of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself - a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them.
But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?
When We Collided By Emery Lord
With a mother lost in a deep bout of depression following their father’s death, Jonah and his five siblings are struggling. But with the start of summer comes Vivi Alexander, the new girl in town.
Vivi is in love with life. Charming and unfiltered, she refuses to be held down by the medicine she's told should make her feel better. After meeting Jonah, she slides into the Daniels' household seamlessly, winning over each sibling with her imagination. But it's not long before Vivi's zest for life begins to falter. Soon her adventurousness becomes all-out danger-seeking.
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
On the surface, How I Live Now is a tale of survival when World War 3 breaks out in the UK, but it also expertly demonstrates that a person’s mental health diagnosis is not their whole story.
Daisy must survive the war that’s tearing her life apart, and with everything else that comes as part of this struggle to make it through, confront her eating disorder too.
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Audrey can't leave the house thanks to her anxiety. She can't even take off her dark glasses inside the house.
Then her brother's friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again - well, Starbucks is a start. And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she'd thought were too scary.
Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable as Audrey realises that even when you feel like you have lost yourself, love can still find you.
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay Jensen comes home from school to find outside his front door a mysterious box with his name on it.
Inside he discovers a series of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush. Only, she committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On the first tape, Hannah explains that there are 13 reasons why she did what she did - and Clay is one of them. If he listens, Clay will find out how he got onto the list - what he hears will change his life forever.
Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie is a freshman. And while's he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. He's a wallflower - shy and introspective, and intelligent beyond his years, if not very savvy in the social arts.
But with the help of a teacher who recognises his wisdom and intuition, and his two new friends, seniors Samantha and Patrick, Charlie mostly manages to avoid the depression he feels creeping up like ivy – until a shocking realisation leads him to confront the one thing he’s being trying to forget.
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