OKAY so my title may be a little bit misleading because this going to be a list of ten contemporary books that I really loved that have to do with tough issues (mental illness, abuse, etc.) but I had no idea how to incorporate that into the title without making the title super long. So here we are.
Anyway, this is my second time taking part in Top Ten Tuesday. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature started by The Broke and the Bookish.
Keep in mind these are pretty much all going to be books that I’ve read several years ago, as I’ve recently been more into fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian. When I was in middle school and high school I loved reading contemporaries that dealt with really tough topics though and I wanted to give a shout out to some of those books that I remember as being especially enjoyable (maybe enjoyable isn’t quite the right word since some of these are pretty dark…). (Upon actually going through these, I’m realizing I don’t remember much about many of them, just that I liked them haha oops?)
PLEASE keep in mind that these all deal with potentially triggering topics such as eating disorders, substance abuse, sexual abuse, depression, etc.
Links are all to Goodreads!
I’ve raved about this before but this is one that I’ve read relatively recently (within the past couple of years) and that has stuck with me. I remember getting really wrapped up in this story. It’s about a girl who suffers from anorexia and depression and who is dealing with an immense amount of guilt about her best friend’s death.
This is another one that I’ve raved to you guys about before and another book that I remember being wrapped up in. I read this because I kept seeing people quoting it on Tumblr and ended up really liking it. Charlie is a bit of an odd MC, but I ended up liking him a lot and I think that was because I saw a lot of myself in him.
I read this quite awhile ago. I remember my mom had the book and I stole it from her to read it and absolutely loved it. This deals with some pretty dark stuff. The MC’s dad was in prison (I don’t remember if you know right away why, so I won’t say just in case it’s a spoiler) but gets out early on parole and she’s really torn up about it. Like I said, definitely deals with dark stuff. Full disclosure: I’ve seen a pretty decent amount of negative reviews on Goodreads saying it doesn’t handle the topic that well and I’m pretty sure I was in middle school when I read this, so I can’t really confirm or deny that, but just be aware of it, I guess.
This list would not be complete without at least one book by Ellen Hopkins (I’ve included two just to be safe). This was the first book of hers that I ever read because a lot of my friends at the time were reading it and thought it was great. And they were right. This is inspired by Hopkins’ own experience with her daughter and is a really powerful book on drug addiction. There are two sequels too. And it’s written in verse which is something I’ve always loved to read.
Laurie Halse Anderson is an excellent author and often writes about topics that are so important. I’m sure many of you have heard of this one before and a lot of you have probably read it too as it’s quite popular. The MC, Melinda, is dealing with the after effects of trauma and is really struggling with it and honestly, this is just such a powerful book about such an important (and unfortunately, relevant) topic.
To be honest, I don’t remember a lot about this, but (as you may or may not be able to guess from the title) it’s about a girl struggling to deal with being in an abusive relationship. The one thing that I really remember sticking out to me was how honest and unique the narration is.
I remember even less about this one… I just remember really liking it (that is so unhelpful, sorry guys lol). Seth, the MC, is dealing with guilt after his best friend dies and he feels he’s responsible. Like I said, this is a very unhelpful blurb because I remember nothing about it except that I thought it was good book haha
As you can probably guess from the title, a major theme in this is drug use. It’s about two best friends who decide to try ecstasy and it basically all goes downhill from there. I remember really liking this and thinking about it for awhile after I had finished (which to me, almost always means it was a great book).
This was another book that I read because my friends kept saying it was really good and again, they were right. This is written in the style of a diary about a girl who tries LSD and then her life pretty much falls apart. I was really shocked to go on Goodreads and see that the reviews that pop up first are almost all 1-stars (the book overall is still rated almost 4 stars) but it seems like most of those people are mad because they either thought it was a true story and then found out it wasn’t or because they think it’s unbelievable as a real story? I don’t really understand that but okay (well, I can understand giving it a low rating because you don’t think it’s believable, but not because you feel you were tricked into thinking it was real). ANYWAY, I really loved this book and there are a number of other books written in the same style – some of which I’ve read, some of which I still need to read.
Another Ellen Hopkins book because to be completely honest anytime I think “contemporary YA that deals with tough issues” she is the first author that comes to mind. This, like all her books, is also written in verse and she really writes beautifully. This is about 3 teens who are all in a psychiatric hospital after trying to commit suicide and they kind of draw strength from each other to try and overcome their pasts. I don’t remember too much about it as my Ellen Hopkins phase was in middle school and I’m now in my 3rd year of college, but I can promise you that any of her books are bound to be powerful and fascinating.
These are 10 books that I read that deal with tough issues that I remember being really good books that I enjoyed a lot (even if I don’t remember anything about the actual story… please excuse my terrible memory). For those of you who posted a TTT, leave a link in the comments!