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Mental Illness in YA Month Reading List: Intersectional YA Novels Featuring Mental Illness

Yesterday, we had a guest post from Ashley Woodfolk, who spoke about how intersectional YA is important to learn empathy. Today, I thought I'd share with you the intersectional YA novels I know of where the protagonists also have a mental illness. This first list mentions the books I've previously read and reviewed, and those I'm not able to get to for Mental Illness in YA Month. I'll also include a list at the end of all intersectional books I'll be covering in this event.

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Love can be a dangerous thing...

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna’s tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she’s far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.
From Goodreads.

Hanna is biracial; half-Black-American, half White-Fin, has bipolar, and possibly another illness which involves hallucinations.

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That's how long recovering addict Sophie's been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong - a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she'd already beaten, Sophie's finally out and on the trail of the killer - but can she track them down before they come for her?
From Goodreads.

Sophie is disabled, bisexual, and is addicted to painkillers. #OwnVoices for sexuality.

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warg

Aysel and Roman are practically strangers, but they've been drawn into an unthinkable partnership. In a month's time, they plan to die by suicide - together.

Aysel knows why she wants to die: being the daughter of a murderer doesn't equal normal, well-adjusted teenager. But she can't figure out why handsome, popular Roman wants to end it all....and why he's even more determined than she is.

With the deadline getting closer, something starts to grow between Aysel and Roman - a feeling she never thought she would experience. It seems there might be something to live for, after all - but is Aysel in so deep she can't turn back?
From Goodreads.

Aysel is Turkish-American and has depression.

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she's too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

The latest powerful, original novel from Hannah Moskowitz is the story about living in and outside communities and stereotypes, and defining your own identity.
From Goodreads.

Etta is Black, bisexual, and has an eating disorder not otherwise specified. #OwnVoices for eating disorder not otherwise specified.

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.
From Goodreads.

June is biracial; half-Korean, half-white-American, and has an eating disorder.

More Happy Than Note by Adam Silvera

In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again—but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
From Goodreads.

Aaron is Latino, gay, and has depression. #OwnVoices for all three.

Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley

Sixteen year old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn't left his house in three years, which is fine by him. At home, he is the master of his own kingdom--even if his kingdom doesn't extend outside of the house.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to go to a top tier psychiatry program. She'll do anything to get in.

When Lisa finds out about Solomon's solitary existence, she comes up with a plan sure to net her a scholarship: befriend Solomon. Treat his condition. And write a paper on her findings. To earn Solomon's trust, Lisa begins letting him into her life, introducing him to her boyfriend Clark, and telling him her secrets. Soon, Solomon begins to open up and expand his universe. But all three teens have grown uncomfortably close, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse as well.
From Goodreads.

Solomon is gay and has agoraphobia.

History is all You Left Me by Adam Silvera

You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world where this morning you’re having an open casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken.

OCD-afflicted seventeen-year-old, Griffin, has just lost his first love – his best friend, ex-boyfriend and the boy he believed to be his ultimate life partner – in a drowning accident. In a desperate attempt to hold onto every last piece of the past, a broken Griffin forges a friendship with Theo’s new college boyfriend, Jackson. And Griffin will stop at nothing to learn every detail of Theo’s new college life, and ultimate death. But as the grieving pair grow closer, readers will question Griffin's own version of the truth – both in terms of what he’s willing to hide, and what true love ultimately means...
From Goodreads.

Griffin is Latino, gay, and has OCD. #OwnVoices for race and sexuality.

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…

For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.

Anthony Stone is a rich man with four other daughters—and rules for every second of the day. Tiffany tries to make the best of things, but she doesn’t fit into her new luxurious, but super-strict, home—or get along with her standoffish sister London. The only thing that makes her new life even remotely bearable is the strange boy across the street. Marcus McKinney has had his own experiences with death, and the unexpected friendship that blossoms between them is the only thing that makes her feel grounded.

But Tiffany has a secret. Another man claims he’s Tiffany’s real dad—and she only has seven days before he shows up to demand a paternity test and the truth comes out. With her life about to fall apart all over again, Tiffany finds herself discovering unexpected truths about her father, her mother and herself, and realizing that maybe family is in the bonds you make—and that life means sometimes taking risks.
From Goodreads.

Tiffany is Black and has anxiety. #OwnVoices for both.

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?
From Goodreads.

Claudia is Black, and has anxiety. #OwnVoices for race.

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

A story of resilience and loss, love and family, Mark Oshiro's Anger is a Gift testifies to the vulnerability and strength of a community living within a system of oppression.

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies' father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media's vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.
From Goodreads.

Moss is Black, gay, and has anxiety. #OwnVoices for sexuality.

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he's suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.

At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.
From Goodreads.

Laila is biracial; half-Ecudorean, half-French-Canadian, pansexual, plus-sized and has anxiety.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius doesn't think he'll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He's about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it's pretty overwhelming--especially when he's also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom's family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what's going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don't have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he's spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush--the original Persian version of his name--and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he's Darioush to Sohrab. When it's time to go home to America, he'll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.
From Goodreads.

Darius is Iranian-American, and has clinical depression. #OwnVoices for race.

And here are the intersectional YA novels I'm reviewing for Mental Illness in YA Month:

  • Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa - Mira is biracial; half-Black, half-white-American, has chronic fatigue syndrome, and has depression.
  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman - Kiko is biracial; half-Japanese, half-white-American, and has social anxiety. Also a sexual assault survivor, and experience emotional abuse.
  • Vanished by E. E. Cooper - Kalah is Indian-American, bisexual, and has OCD.
  • The Wicker King by K. Ancrum - August is biracial, and has codependency, anorexia, anxiety and pyromania.
  • Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz - Zach is Latino, is an alcoholic, and has anxiety and depression.
  • Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu - Clarissa is East Asian, and has OCD.
  • The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk - Autumn is Korean-American, adopted, and has depression; Shay is Black and has anxiety, and Logan is gay and is self-medicating with alcohol.
  • When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez - Emily is Latina and has depression.
  • The Girl and the Grove by Eric Smith - Leila is Black, adopted, and has seasonal affective disorder.
  • The Lost & Found by Katrina Leno - Louis is Indian-American and has anxiety.
  • For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig - Jetta is a woman of colour (in a Hawaiian inspired high fantasy world), pansexual, and has bipolar.
  • Pointe by Brandy Colbert - Theo is Black and has anorexia.
  • The Art of Feeling by Laura Tims - Sam is disabled, has chronic pain, and has depression.
  • The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller - Matt is Jewish, gay, and has an eating disorder.
  • All the Ways the World Can End by Abby Sher - Lenny is Jewish and has OCD.
Also check out Mental Health & Teens of Color on Stacked, and 12 Women Of Color And Native Authors Open Up About Why They Write About Mental Illness on Bustle - both articles written by Patrice Caldwell, founder of People of Color in Publishing, and Associate Editor at Disney-Hyperion.

Know of any others not listed here or in Caldwell's articles? Do comment and let me know, and I'll add them to the list!

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This post first appeared on Once Upon A Bookcase, please read the originial post: here

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Mental Illness in YA Month Reading List: Intersectional YA Novels Featuring Mental Illness


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