Hey all, it’s Linz checking in for Top 5 Wednesday, and this week we’re talking books that feature mental health. One of the greatest developments for literature in the modern age is our understanding of mental health, because it’s allowed adults (young and not-so-young alike) to see themselves and others in a different, more understanding light.
So, I give to you in no particular order 5 books I love that feature mental health, and *PLOT TWIST* 1 book I loathe:
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: Should I describe it, because I feel like everyone knows about this book? Is it not THE introduction to the struggles with depression, or are high schools still shoving Salinger down America’s throats? This semi-autobiographical book about a young woman’s mental health struggles in the ‘60s was eye-opening for me; if you’re thinking of picking up My Year of Rest and Relaxation, read this instead.
- The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan: I could not shut up about this novel last year; it was hands down my favorite book of 2018. You can read my review here, but the short version is it’s about a young woman and her family dealing with the aftermath of her mom’s suicide. I was so impressed with how Pan handled the discussion of depression (among other things) and I will force you to read this if it’s the last thing I do.
- The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness: I was expecting to read a book more or less about the Buffyverse from Xander’s perspective—and it is, but not as immersed in Buffy’s world as I thought it would be. To phrase it better, this is a book about the people who are in the same class with but aren’t a Chosen One or Bella Swan, and their very real lives and struggles. One of the best points this book makes is just because someone’s enemy isn’t a physical manifestation (zombies, vampires, ghosts), it doesn’t mean their enemy (anxiety, OCD, eating disorders) isn’t real.
- Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh: Alot (laughs hysterically) of you have probably read Brosh’s web comic series about her life from a few years ago, but if you haven’t, just pick up the book. She wrote on a large number of topics, but it’s her openness and willingness to talk about her depression that stuck with me for YEARS.
- Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley: Not all books about mental health have to be all about depression, I swear to God. This one is actually about a 16yo boy, Soloman, with agoraphobia, and the teens who decide they’re going to help him get out of the house. The characters were so real, and I found the handling of agoraphobia and anxiety to be very well done.
And I know there many, many others out there, and I’m always happy to get a recommendation!
But before I go, we can’t not talk about it….
I CANNOT with 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I absolutely refuse to watch the show because I’ve read the book, and I actually told my sister-in-law not to let her kids read the book or see the show. Before she killed herself, Hannah Baker made 13 cassette tapes explaining how certain people directly contributed to her suicide, and left them as a trail for her classmate Clay to find. It glamorizes suicide, and there is some verrrrrry bad logic that I could absolutely see adversely affecting teens with depression.
Whew, got that off my chest.