Mental Illness Booklist for Teens

I’ve really appreciated all the discussion on here and elsewhere about mental illness, especially as it pertains to kids and teens, this month. Thank you! Next week I’ll put up a list of resources and I’ll post the winner of Rachel M. Wilson‘s debut novel, Don’t Touch

Anyway, I struggled a bit to compile this list, and what is here is mostly a group effort from my fabulous facebook friends. What counts as a mental illness? How to classify books that undoubtedly deal with mental illness but never give a diagnosis? And which books will be beneficial to a struggling teen and which will trigger them or be otherwise unhelpful? I’m not really sure. Also, keep in mind that many of these are co-ocurring conditions and many of the books fit in multiple categories, especially as is the case with trauma survivors. And my friend Erin Moulton has an article about Mental Illness fiction coming out in SLJ next month which will have a much more extensive list than this, but hopefully this is a useful start.

Depression

  • 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • Damage by A.M. Jenkins
  • Lone Wolf by Kristine Franklin
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
  • This Song Will Save Your Life
  • Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
  • Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story
  • Riders of the Apocalypse series by Jackie Morse Kessler
  • A Concrete Sky by Kristine Jex (Memoir)
  • How I Made It to Eighteen: A Mostly True Story
  • Trouble in My Head by Mathilde Monaque (Memoir)
  • The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner (Graphic Novel)
  • 101 Alternatives to Suicide by Kate Bornstein (Informational)
  • Beyond the Blues: A Workbook to Help Teens Overcome Depression by Lisa M. Schab (Informational)
  • Out of Order: Young Adult Manual of Mental Illness and Recovery

Bipolar

  • Chasing the Milky Way by Erin Moulton
  • Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
  • An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
  • Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult’s Guide to Dealing with Bipolar Disorder
  • Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bipolar but Were Too Freaked Out to Ask
  • Out of Order: Young Adult Manual of Mental Illness and Recovery

Self-Harm

  • Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
  • Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick
  • Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • Riders of the Apocalypse series by Jackie Morse Kessler
  • Cut by Patricia McCormick
  • Stopping the Pain: A Workbook for Teens Who Cut and Self Injure

Eating Disorders

  • She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
  • A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger
  • Riders of the Apocalypse series by Jackie Morse Kessler
  • What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
  • Wasted by Marya Hornbacher (Memoir)
  • How I Made It to Eighteen: A Mostly True Story
  • Everything Sucks by Hannah Friedman (Memoir)
  • Inside Out by Nadia Shivack (Graphic Memoir)

PTSD

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson 
  • Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
  • Lone Wolf by Kristine Franklin
  • All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
  • What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
  • Something like Normal by Trish Doller
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Coping With Trauma by John G. Allen (Informational)
  • Courage to Heal (Informational Book and Workbook about Sexual Assault)

Dissociation*

  • Tangerine by Edward Bloor
  • The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
  • Dancing on the Edge by Han Nolan
  • Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • Chime by Franny Billingsley
  • The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
  • Inexcusable by Chris Lynch
  • Identical by Ellen Hopkins
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson 
  • The Savage by David Almond, Illus. by Dave McKean (Graphic Novel)
  • Stitches by David Small (Graphic Memoir)
  • Coping With Trauma by John G. Allen (Informational)
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook by Deborah Bray Haddock (Informational)
  • When Rabbit Howls by Truddi Chase (Memoir)
  • Sum of My Parts by Olga Trujillo (Memoir)

Borderline Personality Disorder

  • A Concrete Sky by Kristine Jex (Memoir)
  • Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (Memoir)
  • Out of Order: Young Adult Manual of Mental Illness and Recovery

OCD

  • Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson
  • OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu
  • Lexapros and Cons
  • The Ray of Hope: A Teenager’s Fight Against Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by Ray St. John (Informational)
  • Out of Order: Young Adult Manual of Mental Illness and Recovery

Anxiety

  • Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson
  • Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
  • Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart
  • The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
  • How I Made It to Eighteen: A Mostly True Story
  • My Anxious Mind: A Teen’s Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic (Informational)
  • The Anxiety Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anxiety and Worry
  • Out of Order: Young Adult Manual of Mental Illness and Recovery

Agoraphobia

  • The Boy from the Basement by Susan Shaw
  • The 10 PM Question by Kate De Goldi
  • Sum of My Parts by Olga Trujillo (Memoir) 

Schizophrenia/Paranoia

  • The Boy from the Basement by Susan Shaw
  • Chasing the Milky Way by Erin Moulton
  • The Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi
  • I Never Promised You a Rose Garden 
  • I Will Save You
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell (Graphic Novel)
  • The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
  • Giving Up the Ghost by Eric Nuzum (Memoir)
  • Out of Order: Young Adult Manual of Mental Illness and Recovery

*I want to caution that I would be very careful about giving books about dissociation to a teen reader. Dissociation is a fairly severe coping mechanism used to shield the person from traumatic material that they are not safe enough to know or handle. If a child or teen has personal experience with dissociation, then they are most likely in a dangerous situation, and I would not personally think it wise to give them anything that might undermine that coping mechanism before they were out of the situation that has forced them to dissociate. Adults who are safe enough to start breaking down this coping mechanism often have suicidal thoughts and feelings as they begin to do so. Even if they are supported, loved, and in therapy. And I, personally, have had (and continue to have) severe anxiety as I read books dealing with dissociation. So I include this category for completeness sake and in case there is a situation in which the teen is ready to start unpacking these thoughts and feelings, but I would be careful. That’s all.

 

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About pamwatts

Writer, Reader, and Children's advocate
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7 Responses to Mental Illness Booklist for Teens

  1. Thank you for this useful list, Pam! I just finished reading several of these books (The Impossible Knife of Memory and Don’t Touch) and appreciated their treatment of, respectively, the PTSD of a parent that a child absorbs, and anxiety/OCD.

  2. pamwatts says:

    I hope the list is useful, Lyn! I haven’t read all of these, so now I have some new books for the pile, myself.

  3. This is a fantastic list!

    I have a few suggestions (even though you hadn’t asked! Haha. Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang, which I just finished reading last night, it deals with attempted suicide and depression.

    Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick and deals with cutting and a psych ward.

    Wintegirls by Laurie Halse Anderson deals with an eating disorder.

    Impulse also by Ellen Hopkins deals with a variety of issues.

    My final suggestion is The Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi, which deals with the main protagonist dealing with her mother’s mental illness, which is different from the others, but I think it could be just as useful.

    I’ll definitely check out Erin’s list.

    • pamwatts says:

      I’ll add those, Amber! Except Wintergirls. I actually left that off on purpose because it completely ignores the context of the girls’ lives which I find irresponsible.

      • Great! I haven’t read Kiss of Broken Glass so I can’t vouch for that book itself, but The Chance You Won’t Return seems to be okay.

        Ah! You’re completely right about Wintergirls. I haven’t read that book since I first read it years ago and didn’t even think of that when I suggested it. That’s a great point.

  4. Pingback: Weekly round-up of book-related links – Cite Something!

  5. Pingback: Mental Illness Resource Round-up | Strong in the Broken Places

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