Mental health is a hot topic, so it’s not surprising that lots of YA authors have tackled it in their work. I’ve read lots of YA books about mental wellness, and I definitely have a few favorites. These books are amazingly written and totally nail the topic they’re grappling with.
1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
After Clay finds a box full of tapes on his porch, he’s shocked to hear the voice of Hannah, a classmate who committed suicide coming out of his cassette. Hannah says that thirteen people are to blame for her depression, and Clay is one of them. She sends Clay on a miniature journey through their town, walking him through the events leading up to her death. Thirteen Reasons Why seems to truly understand the pain and despair a suicidal person feels, in a quite remarkable way.
2. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Lia and Cassie are “wintergirls,” frozen in their thin, waifish bodies. They’re in a competition to see who can be the thinnest, but when Cassie succumbs to her demons, Lia is left alone. Wintergirls is a raw, un-glamorized look into the vortex of anorexia, and the road one takes to recovery.
3. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Noah and Jude have always been NoahandJude, inseparable, until something drives them apart. Their story is told in alternating viewpoints, one part told by Jude, and the other Noah. Together, they wrestle with first love, sexual awakening, family loss, and betrayal. This novel is one of my favorites; positively radiant and emotional.
4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie is an awkward, intelligent, introspective high school freshman one could only describe as a wallflower. In this amazing coming of age novel, he journeys through first dates, sex, drugs, family drama, new friends, and a past that continues to haunt him. Chbosky’s words bring you back to the wild fun of growing up, while showcasing its rough realities.
5. Looking for Alaska by John Green
Miles has always lived a pretty uneventful life, but he craves “the Great Perhaps.” So, he heads off to a boarding school hoping to add a little spice to his life, and there he meets a whole new group of quirky, boisterous friends, including Alaska, a beautiful, funny, clever girl with a whole lot of damage. Looking for Alaska thrusts you into a story of love, life, and mental health in ways I don’t think any other book has.