Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. And many of them are people you know—you know them because they write the books that you’re reading. Mental Illness in YA Literature. HarperTeen, 2014. If you’re writing a YA book, or thinking about writing one, that has a character(s) grappling with mental illness of some variety, good on you! Helping teens better understand their mental life, as well as better cultivating the language to openly communicate about it, are YA books about mental illness. So when his worried parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.”. *, Thanks for commenting! Even more proof that you can’t trust adults to do the right thing. Keep courage. Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. For the longest time, talking about mental illness and suicide has been something of a taboo, especially in the presence of children and young adults. Once her name was Toswiah. Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. Wiping the slate clean sounds like a pretty good choice to him. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to? I would never touch this subject unless I had a clear plan on how I was going to handle it. Her mother leaves teaching behind and clings to a new-found religion. And Evie, struggling to find her way in a new city where kids aren’t friendly and the terrain is as unfamiliar as her name, wonders who she is. But this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. For being aware that mental illness is a big part of life for people in my community as well as in the world in general, I haven’t thought about it much in the extent of books. I wanted to review On a Scale of One to Ten by Ceylan Scott for Mental Illness in YA Month as it was an #OwnVoices novel for borderline personality disorder (BPD). Winging it is not an option. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends. Want more great YA books about mental illness? Steal back ex-boyfriend from best friend…. Except Sarah’s martyrdom is important to a lot of people, people who don’t take kindly to what I’m trying to do. EXAMPLES: Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor | Vivaldi in the Dark by Matthew J. Metzger | All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | When We Collided by Emery Lord. Definition - is a normal reaction to stressful situations. Evie Thomas is not who she used to be. Every day means renewed determination, so every day means fewer calories. This is exactly what I’m talking about! A friend, who’s trying to help him get control again. Macy’s school officially classifies her as “disturbed,” but Macy isn’t interested in how others define her. If you or someone you know struggles with their mental health, please seek professional help. YA lit can showcase authentic symptoms of mental illness Language In many books that feature characters with mental disorders such as schizophrenia or depression, readers will notice a variety of terms for someone who has a mental illness (used by an individual with the disorder to refer to the self as well as by those who are talking about others). Didn’t she imagine him? 16-year-old Vicky Cruz wakes up in a hospital’s mental ward after a failed suicide attempt. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming—especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. I think books are a great way of reaching young people in distress, showing them they’re not alone, and giving them hope. the NCTE, dedicated their fall 2018 issue to mental illness in young adult literature. When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. You get on your bike and go. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. Henry Denton has spent years being periodically abducted by aliens. If only Mike will listen. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), What is a series that has been on your #TBR for a, What are your goals for 2021? Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world―full of dark humor and hard truths. Her family has been forced to move to a new place and change their identities. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. What stuff? Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have…powers. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. Trigger Warning: This book features mental illness stigma, self-harm, several suicide attempts, and suicide. That was Olga’s role. People experiencing mental illness are at higher risk of suicide and self-harm, using it as a means of managing or escaping overwhelming emotional pain. Sixteen-year-old Grace is in a race against time—and in a race for her life—even if she doesn’t realize it yet…. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. 5. Unable to see her friends. I’m off to check out the books she’s mentioned . One of the heaviest themes is mental illness. Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence to document the journey with images. His mom is a struggling waitress held together by a thin layer of cigarette smoke. Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. Accept Grams is gone. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed. You tell him your parents won’t be able to— Richmond’s 2018 ALAN Review article analyzes the language—from medical jargon to slurs and everything in between—that one YA novel and the characters in it use to describe mental illness and to what EXAMPLES: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman | Made You Up by Francesca Zappia | A World Without You by Beth Revis | Mosquitoland by David Arnold. What’s important to know with these books is that for some readers, they may be triggering and/or they may feel inauthentic to their own experiences. And Norah likes what he sees. From the point of view of somebody with a mental illness. In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. You will remember to water the azaleas. (Don’t) Call Me Crazy is a conversation starter and guide to better understanding how our mental health affects us every day. What a brilliant, informative post! At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She is smart, responsible, and contending with more than what most teens ever have to. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that’s holding him back. Seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun—and tried to end it all. Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything”—at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store. It’s always been there, in part because writing about adolescents in any capacity means exploring a social group that is a cocktail of hormones that causes them tremendous physical, emotional, intellectual, and mental changes in a short time frame. Not the occasional morning, but every single day? She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Everyone has had days like that, but what if you have them every day? It doesn’t work that way! Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions…. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. But they’ll all have to deal with themselves—and one another—if they want to learn how to live. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. But Alex is used to being crazy. Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying. There are a lot of debates regarding … I write from my own experience and love is irrelevant to mental health. Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. An eating disorder is a type of mental disorder where an individual has abnormal eating habits that negatively influence their physical and/or mental health. With his parents checked out, Ronney is left tending to his sister’s mounting fears of roaming lions, stopping his best friend from going on a suburban safari, and shaking loose a lonely boy who follows Ronney wherever he goes. Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time—that he somehow left her in the past, and that now it’s his job to save her. When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable. But talking openly about mental health in YA books has seen an increase as the category of books has grown, too. Go figure. Aza is trying. Perfect: A Novel by Rachel Joyce. disturbed? She spends a lot of time watching him. In order to understand mental health, we need to talk openly about it. Something bad must have happened. Once she had a best friend, a happy home and a loving grandmother living nearby. Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and Willa has no intention of fitting in. I don’t like God very much. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. You’re not alone. 8. Even a cursory internet search will reveal some truly horrifying statistics, especially in the western world where health outcomes have historically been superior. Two girls who will find out just how many ways there are to lose a friend…and how many ways to be lost. Big responsibility for writers too! 5. *Note: I haven’t read most of the books listed above, so can’t really speak as to whether they give a good representation of mental illness. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. But this increasingly educated society was eager to separate fiction from fact. Good thing for Hanna, she’s far from normal. 3. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed. Random House, 2014. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. He’s also an alcoholic and in rehab instead of high school, but he doesn’t remember how he got there. Thanks Lorraine! Her once lively father has become depressed and quiet. HMH Books, 2013. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. 6. Is using the word crazy offensive? You scribble down the address. Weighing the pain and the joy that surrounds him, Henry is left with the ultimate choice: push the button and save the planet and everyone on it…or let the world—and his pain—be destroyed forever. Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death, whereas self-harm is the deliberate and direct injury of one’s own body tissue without suicidal intent. I analyze the limitations of popular YA novels such as Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why and Jennifer Niven's All the Bright With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. We live in a much better time. Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful…in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. A sense of hopelessness tends to emanate from books on illness, with a grim finish line that the reader knows is coming. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. It’s always been there, in part because writing about adolescents in any capacity means exploring a social group that is a cocktail of hormones that causes them tremendous physical, emotional, intellectual, and mental changes in a short time frame. YA novels are a great way to raise awareness and kick-start the conversation on this important issue. Despite what many adults might think or say, teens are interested in these issues, and we often don’t give them (and their maturity) enough credit when it comes to talking about them. Mental illness is one of the most pressing health concerns of the modern age. Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t get out of bed? 2. When you buy through these links, Book Riot may earn a commission. Their families, extended whanau, and significant others, whatever they think about the illness, cannot escape Willa Parker, 646th and least-popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life. Mike Welles had everything under control. Her only sister is making secret plans to leave. Something really, really bad. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? But with the rise in diagnoses of mental health challenges—in part because of a better understanding of how these illnesses can work—comes the crucial need to talk about mental health in a bigger way. Remembering sucks and being alive—well, what’s up with that? "Mental Illness in Young Adult Literature is an excellent overview of common mental health struggles that many readers begin to face in their teen years and a solid introduction to the literature that addresses those same struggles. *also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas. He says he has her stuff. Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away. Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior. It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn’t be alive. Presented on March 8, 2017. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. But mental illnesses, even those understood fairly well by the mental health community, don’t play out in nice, conventional, and easily-understood ways. Most everyone knows this timeless tale. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. Mental Illness in YA Literature: In Young Adults Here you will find a list of definitions, causes, and other info on common mental illnesses that affect teens. There is no single way to “do it right” when it comes to depicting mental health or mental illness. If rehabilitating the notion of therapy in literature means de-stigmatizing the ongoing process, there is still the issue of romance within YA books that also deal with mental illness. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same. But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. Secondary Sources . 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