The conversation around mental health does not end on June 1. Having an open and honest discussion around this important topic is much needed, especially when we want to break the stigma and hide the assumptions surrounding the topic. Dealing with mental health issues of my own, I tend to gravitate towards books that discuss it painfully but in a beautiful that will start ignite conversations.
So if you are looking for those books that help you examine mental health beyond, here is a great starter pack:
Toffee by Sarah Crossan
I don’t think I have enough words to describe how emotional and breathless this book was. Sarah Crossan has a true gift of creating a poignant story that resonates with you after you finished reading it. It expands on the different meaning of the word home, a word that we sometimes take for granted. Crossan explores the themes of mental health and friendship so beautifully that this thought provoking novel in verse will leave you astounded about life itself.
And The Stars Were Burning Brightlyby Danielle Jawando
When fifteen-year-old Nathan discovers that his older brother Al has taken his own life, his whole world is torn apart.
Al was special.
Al was talented.
Al was full of passion and light…so why did he do it?
Convinced that his brother was in trouble, Nathan begins to retrace his footsteps. And along the way, he meets Megan. Al’s former classmate, who burns with the same fire and hope, who is determined to keep Al’s memory alive. But when Nathan learns the horrifying truth behind his brother’s suicide, one question remains – how do you survive, when you’re growing up in the age of social media? (Credit: Simon & Schuster)
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
This one reminds a lot of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It really speaks to the mental health issues and stereotypes that plague the world today, especially people of the black community. The emotions and messages of this novel conveyed felt personal and allowed me to feel a deep connection with Queenie. The pain I saw in her I have felt and continue to feel within myself. Candice-Carty Williams is such a great writer and a new voice that we need in this generation.
The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton
How can I hold myself together, when everything around me is falling apart?
Neena’s always been a good girl – great grades, parent-approved friends and absolutely no boyfriends. But ever since her brother Akash left her, she’s been slowly falling apart – and uncovering a new version of herself who is freer, but altogether more dangerous.
As her wild behaviour spirals more and more out of control, Neena’s grip on her sanity begins to weaken too. And when her parents announce not one but two life-changing bombshells, she finally reaches breaking point.
But as Neena is about to discover, when your life falls apart, only love can piece you back together. (Credit: Penguin)
Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
This was such a powerful and heartbreaking about how the importance of friendship can get help people get through their troubles. This book also depicts of the struggles of mental health in an honestly and beautifully, a way that readers would definitely respect.
All The Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman
6-year-old Mehreen Miah’s anxiety and depression, or ‘Chaos’, as she calls it, has taken over her life, to the point where she can’t bear it any more. So she joins MementoMori, a website that matches people with partners and allocates them a date and method of death, ‘the pact’. Mehreen is paired with Cara Saunders and Olivia Castleton, two strangers dealing with their own serious issues.
As they secretly meet over the coming days, Mehreen develops a strong bond with Cara and Olivia, the only people who seem to understand what she’s going through. But ironically, the thing that brought them together to commit suicide has also created a mutually supportive friendship that makes them realise that, with the right help, life is worth living. It’s not long before all three want out of the pact. But in a terrifying twist of fate, the website won’t let them stop, and an increasingly sinister game begins, with MementoMori playing the girls off against each other.
A pact is a pact, after all.
In this powerful debut written in three points of view, Yasmin Rahman has created a moving, poignant novel celebrating life. ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER SAID is about friendship, strength and survival. (Credit: Hot Key Books)
Mike by Andrew Norriss
I absolutely loved this one. It was just so heartwarming, thought provoking and had a story that went outside the box. Sometimes you think that your life is headed on the life track but your instincts take over and lead down a different one. This YA novel had a great uplifting message towards the end that will touch anyone’s heart of different ages.
The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan
A beautiful and heartbreaking story about a young teen trying to carry the burden of taking care of his mother, who has multiple sclerosis and trying to give his brother, Danny, a normal childhood. While reading this story, I quickly connected with Bobby. His development throughout the story was astounding and an emotional journey that the reader can embark on. We watch him be given an impossible task that we, the readers, ask if we would do it ourselves. Conaghan had a way to reflect truth and pain in his writing. Although brutal, I just could not put it down. It was interesting to see a young carer as the protagonist, a big deviation from the YA genre.
The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr
Another book where you shouldn’t always listen to Goodreads users’ opinion. In fact, this is most likely one of the most unique YA novels I have ever read. Emily Barr has a gift of really showing the mind of main character. You could really feel Ella’s sadness and isolation. The writing style might be different than what YA readers are use to but that is what making me praise this book even more. You could really feel the turmoil inside Ella’s head. I love the dialogue between Ella and “Bella”. A unique representation of mental illness.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Marianne deals with mental health issues, however, I found Connell’s conversation and interaction with the therapy sessions is what I found to be most profound and I think other readers would feel the same way.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
It was so beautifully done. The artwork was not only breathtaking but the philosophy and the uplifting sentences that will stay with you always and can really uplift you whenever you are in a funk.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This amazing book really hits home the mental health topics that need to be widely discussed. I haven’t encountered many books that approaches the topic of loneliness (something that needs to talk about more widely) in such an poignant way that will enlighten reader who comes across it.