Mental Health Awareness Week 2016
This week is mental health awareness week. Growing up is hard for everyone, but for someone with a mental illness, it can seem impossible. One thing that can help make it a little easier are YA novels that deal with mental health issues. So I’m going to be Talking about YA book recommendations that portray mental illness in a way that is respectful, insightful, and engaging. There are a lot of novels about mental health out there. These young adult novels give realistic portrayals of people coping with a mental illness, and they help raise awareness in the hopes to reduce the stigma.
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
“I hate this feeling. Like I’m here, but I’m not. Like someone cares. But they don’t. Like I belong somewhere else, anywhere but here, and escape lies just past that snowy window, cool and crisp as the February air.”
‘Crank’ is the first book in a trilogy, all following the ups and downs of Kristina’s life as she deals with drug abuse. Crank is an unforgettable read that sweeps you up into a whirlwind of drugs, sex, and the choices and mistakes you must make when growing up.
Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz
“Okay is just a word I use so I won’t have to talk about what’s inside. Okay is a word that means I am going to keep my secrets.”
Eighteen-year-old Zach does not remember why he’s in a rehabilitation centre for alcoholics, but with therapy and group sessions, he soon finds out that he’s capable of dealing with his past and be able to work on his recovery. Zach finds himself in a rehabilitation facility with no memory of his past. He struggles with the monster living in his dreams and inhabiting his thoughts.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)”
Cath and Wren are identical twins who have just entered into their Freshman year of college and Wren wants to break away from having to do everything together. She wants to meet new friends and be more independent. Cath is an introverted girl with a bit of social anxiety disorder. The twins have a lot of opposition between their personalities.
Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
“I don’t want you to think I got through this undamaged, okay? But I’m learning to live with it. Because otherwise, the damage is all you are.”
This book involves mental illness and does display accurate signs of bipolar. In this high school-set psychological tale, a tormented teen named Evan starts to discover a series of unnerving photographs—some of which feature him.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.”
‘Wintergirls’ tells the story of two best friends, Lia and Cassie. Both girls battle eating disorders and after Cassie dies, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s spirit. Overall this is an intimate and emotional real look at eating disorders, and the numerous lives it can affect.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
“when things break, it’s not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. it’s because a little piece gets lost — the two remaining ends couldn’t fit together even if they wanted to. the whole shape has changed.”
Two teenagers, both named Will Grayson, coincidentally meet at a much unexpected place. One is shy and doesn’t want to be in a relationship. The other has depression and seeks love.
Thirteen Reasons Why
“No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same.”
Clay Jenson receives a package filled with cassette tapes, tapes that Hannah Baker made containing the thirteen reasons why she killed herself. The story is told through Hannah’s tapes and Clay’s thoughts. Having these two very different narrators gives a nice, interesting twist to the book.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephan Chbosky
“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
The book covers a lot of serious topics but does it in a realistic way This novel is about a teenage boy named Charlie, Who struggles to fit in at his high school. He slowly builds friendships around a group of teenagers who are a little older than him. We see Charlie develop as a person and see into his thoughts as we see a series of letters written to an unidentified friend.
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
“One foot in front of the other, counting tiles on the floor so I don’t have to focus the blur of painted smiles, fake faces.”
Vanessa, Tony and Conner all end up at Aspen Springs when they attempt to commit suicide. Each of their paths are very different but each led to a suicide attempt. As the point of view changes between each of the main characters we are able to learn about their pasts and take steps towards a happier future. This book was an honest and realistic account of depression and suicide.
Identical by Ellen Hopkins
“That’s what I’ll be. A silhouette, rarely seen, and yet believed in.”
It’s about these two twins, Kaeleigh and Raeanne. They are half of the All-American family, with a dad who is a judge and a mom who is running for a position in Congress. But what lies beneath their façade is really dysfunction.
17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
“I was looking back into memories I didn’t own, wanting in.”
Seventeen-year-old Lauren has visions of girls her own age who are gone without a trace, but while she tries to understand why they are speaking to her and whether she is next, Lauren has a brush with death and a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.
Life is but a Dream by Brian James
Because there’s nothing wrong with me,” Alec says. “You know what is? Our society is so screwed up from top to bottom, everything about it, that it’s become impossible to fix. It’s easier to change people and make them fit into something that’s broken.
Sabrina is a schizophrenic teen, checked into the Wellness Centre after events that are slowly revealed through a series of flashbacks. Sabrina has come to realize that she doesn’t see the world like everyone else does. She’s slowly progressing towards normal when Alex enters her life and turns everything upside down. She rather quickly spirals backwards into her delusions.
These are some of my favourite books featuring mental illnesses. These are just a few of the wonderful novels that touch on the tough issue of mental health in the lives of young adults.