In honour of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I’ve written a list of books that I’d like to read with mental health rep for this Top 5 Wednesday.
Trigger warning: mentions of depression, anxiety, rape and trauma.
Solitaire by Alice Oseman
“Solitaire follows seventeen-year-old chronic pessimist, Tori Spring. Throughout the novel, Tori creates (and destroys) relationships, debatably platonic or romantic, while managing family issues, mental health and the uprise of a local ‘prankster’ group, who’s actions are both growingly concerning and dangerous. Begrudgingly, Tori assists Michael Holden in his ‘investigation’ into the prank group, in doing so, developing a reluctant friendship.”
Alice Oseman pitches Solitaire as ‘speed skater befriends depressed girl’ where the protagonist is battling depression with self-deprecating jokes and learning to find joy in the world. Having read Alice Oseman’s book Radio Silence and really enjoying that coming of age story, I think I will have a similar experience with Solitaire.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
“From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether.
Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. “
Speak seems to be a kind of classic that wasn’t on my radar until recent years. According to the author this book is narrated by a depressed, traumatized young teen.
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
“In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.”
Eliza and Her Monsters deals with anxiety and suicide, as well as having a lot of conversations about mental health. I have wanted to read this book for the longest time because it sounds adorably nerdy with important topics. Everyone seems to have high praise of it too!
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
“Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human.
When the autopsy of Matilda’s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she’s willing to fight for it.”
One review of An Unkindness of Ghosts mentions this book is about collective trauma within a community. Further to this, Aster’s mother committed suicide and I think it can be assumed this would mean they too carry a lot of trauma.
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
“Six years ago, sisters Evelyn and Philippa were swept away to a strange and beautiful kingdom, where they lived for years. But ever since they returned to their lives in post-WWII England, they have struggled to adjust. Ev desperately wants to return to the Woodlands, and Philippa just wants to move on.
When Ev goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.”
Given reviews I believe this book has heavy themes of depression and suicide although the blurb only alludes to it slightly. This book sounds like Narnia fanfiction too, which was a big part of my childhood… and so I’m very excited to read this.
Have you read any of these books? I’d love to hear about the quality of the mental health rep. Or if you had any recommendations… send them my way! 😊