Hello fellow bookworms 🌸 It’s May and that means that it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, a topic that is very important to me. That’s why I’m once again making a recommendation list with some great books about Mental Health representation 💕 I did two recommendation posts in the past (that I’ll link below), but today I have some new books that I hadn’t mentioned yet, a lot of them great books I discovered in the past year! I included the type of representation in the book as well as the content warnings, as some of the books have some heavier topics to look out for and approach if you’re in the right mindset. If I missed anything, please let me know!
How To Make Friends With the Dark (Kathleen Glasgow)
CW’s: Death/Grief, Alcohol Abuse, Mentions of past suicide/suicidal thoughts + self-harm, Abusive Relationship, Mentions of past abuse/parental neglect,
➽ How to Make Friends with the Dark is a raw, honest portrayal of what it means to lose someone you love and it will definitely make you cry Told through the eyes of a girl who loses her mother suddenly, it’s about finding hope when it seems impossible. Tiger’s journey is a messy one, as she’s barely able to cope with everything going on and ends up overwhelmed and out of control. The book raises the question of how you can even begin to live with such a devastating new normal when you haven’t had the chance to grieve properly. The book explores the journey of grieving for everything you have lost. It also explored the devastation of not being able to say goodbye and have a loved one die after you’ve had a huge fight.
You Asked for Perfect (Lauren Silverman)
CW’s: Anxiety, Extreme School Stress
➽ This was such a good take on the consequences of academic pressure and school stress! I always appreciate books that showcase the extreme stress that university and school students are under. The main character Ariel suffers so much from feelings or perfectionism, anxiety and imposter syndrome. He’s convinced that he isn’t smart enough to secure a place at Harvard and constantly stressing out about keeping up his grades. I really felt for him, as Ariel is anxious out about all the work he has to do, and his need to be perfect. This can definitely be hard to read at times as the book is intense and sadly all too relatable. The book is largely about Ariel trying to find out how to manage school without burning himself out and how to have a healthy balance between work and free time.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay (Adib Khorram)
🌸 Rep: Depression
CW’s: Depression, Bullying, Fatphobic/Ableist Comments, Suicidal Ideation
➽ This is a wonderful stories that was recommended so much to me and I’m glad that I read it last year! It’s about a boy called Darius who is visiting his family in Iran for the first time and struggles with finding his own identity and managing relationships. I really felt with him, as the book does a great job of giving him a distinctive voice, which made me feel like I was with him on his emotional journey. Darius also has depression and faces the stigma of having a mental illness (especially with his Iranian family who don’t understand it that well) and being told that ‘he has nothing to be sad about’ when he knows that mental illness doesn’t follow any logic. I loved the representation here and how Darius is trying to find himself during his journey to Iran ❤
The Midnight Library (Matt Haig)
🌸 Rep: Depression, Suicidal Thoughts
CW’s: Death, Animal Death, Suicide Attempt (not graphic), Self Harm, Mentions of grief, stalking, addiction, alcoholism and toxic relationships
➽ I love Matt Haig’s books and how they explore Mental Health, so it was no surprise that I ended up loving The Midnight Library! It’s about Nora Seed, a wonderfully relatable character in her late twenties, who feels utterly lost in life. She’s full of regrets and feels like she failed at living her life. It reaches a breaking point and she decides to commit suicide, yet instead of dying she enters a magical library that gives her the chance to explore the lives she could have had if she had made different choices. This is a very character-focused book and I liked that we saw Nora realize how desperately she wanted to live, as she’s still at risk of dying. This was such a cathartic and satisfying story. I did guess the ending, but I’m glad because it’s the ending I most wanted for her! 🥰
Girl in Pieces (Kathleen Glasgow)
🌸 Rep: Self-Harm, PTSD
CW’s: Self-Harm, Suicide/Suicidal Thoughts, Attempted Rape, Statutory Rape, Forced Prostitution, Drug Abuse, Alcoholism, Mentions of Physical Abuse, Loss of a Loved One
➽ The second Kathleen Glasgow book on this list, as I love her stories very much! Girl in Pieces is about Charlotte, a girl recovering from self-harm and her turbulent past. The book starts out with her in a treatment center, but she doesn’t have the money to pay for it, which gets her in a very vulnerable situation. I admired her resilience and efforts to recover, and liked that the book showed life after treatment and how easy it’s to fall back into back habits. Charlie has no solid support system and the book shows how tough that can be on Mental Health. It’s a very raw, hard-hitting and emotional book that got me so hooked, I finished it in one sitting! 🥺
Heartstopper (Alice Oseman)
🌸 Rep: Eating Disorder, Self-Harm
CW’s: Homophobia/Past Outing, Bullying, ED & Self-Harm Recovery
➽ This is a very well-beloved graphic novel series that you might have heard of before, but I had to include Heartstopper! ❤ It follows the romantic journey of Charlie and Nick from falling in love to exploring your very first relationship. It’s such a heartwarming book about friendships and coming out. In the later volumes Mental Health also becomes a central theme as Charlie is struggling with his eating disorder that gets harder to ignore and also self-harm. I like that Heartstopper explored searching for help, going to therapy and beginning the process of discovery without having any graphic scenes (there are also content warnings within the book when there are scenes that could be potentially triggering).
My Heart and Other Black Holes (Jasmine Warga)
🌸 Rep: Depression, Suicidal Thoughts
CW’s: Suicidal Thoughts, Depression, Loss of a Loved One, Mention of Death/Murder
➽ This was my first Jasmine Warga book and I loved what an emotional story she managed to craft 🥰 My Heart and Other Black Holes is about Aysel, a Teenager with Depression who searches for someone to commit suicide with. She has been considering it for a while and between her difficult family life and bad Mental Health, Aysel meets up with Roman, another teen who is having suicidal thoughts. It’s a tough book to read but the author took great care to explore Mental Health and the connection between Aysel and Roman. There’s is a romantic subplot, but it was well-handled and not portrayed as a solution or cure to depression!
Words on Bathroom Walls (Julia Walton)
🌸 Rep: Schizophrenia
CW’s: Schizophrenia, Mentions of Violence, Self-harm & Suicide
➽ This is a book with a more unlikable narrator, but I appreciate seeing the perspective of a teen boy trying to somehow navigate school, growing up, and first love while also dealing with his schizophrenia. The story is told in Adam’s therapy diary, as he refuses to speak to his therapist and instead writes everything down (so the book is kind of addressed to the therapist which was interesting.) He’s on a drug trial for this new medication and describes his experiences with it, while trying to keep his diagnosis a secret from kids at school. I liked Words on Bathroom Walls as Adam’s voice was so distinct and authentic, even if I didn’t always agree with his actions and opinions. The book definitely gave him room to be messy but also try to grow.
Have you read any books on my list? Did you like them? Any books about Mental Health you recommend? 🌸